Thimphu is hosting a seminar called Development with values: Social fence against corruption conducted by ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia and the Bhutanese government.

Twenty-three Asian and Pacific countries are taking part in the two-day seminar.

In the recent years, Bhutan has had to tackle many corruption issues. If we do not address them effectively, corruption could have serious impact on the stability and security of our society. It could also undermine the institutions and values of democracy, justice and the rule of law. It has been found that at the heart of rising instances of corruption is degeneration in moral values. In many societies, corruption has become serious societal disease. It is the biggest systemic threat facing the economies and societies today.

Effective management of public affairs and public property is, thus, critically important. As a society that strives to achieve sustainable development through good governance, it is imperative that we foster a culture of intolerance towards corruption.

We may have a commission to address issues related to corruption, but corruption is becoming more complex and sophisticated by the day, demanding every unit of the society to play their part if we are to cut root and branch of it. Our Constitution mandates every one of us, as a citizen, to uphold justice and act against corruption.

It is not enough that we have the political will. Reduction of corruption has been incorporated as one of the national key result areas in the five-year plans. But it is important that we remind ourselves from time to time that we can ill afford to be complacent.

Bhutan today ranks 27th out of 168 countries in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. We could certainly do better. Our aim should be to rid our society of corruption whether we are monitored regularly so or otherwise.

“At a time when we are establishing parliamentary democracy in the country, it is very important to curb and root out corruption from the very beginning,” said His Majesty The Fourth King in December 2005.

This seminar is a good reminder to our leaders and policy makers.