Research finds 47.8 percent of HR related complaints were against ministries

RCSC: Bhutan’s rank in the Corruption Perception Index may be the best in the region but a research shows corruption is inherent in the civil service system.

Research findings on the prevalence of corruption in Human Resource (HR) management were shared yesterday at the Royal Institute of Management.

One of the researchers and lecturer from Gaeddu College of Business Studies, Tshering Lhamo, said corruption was prevalent in the form of favoritism in recruitment of civil servants. However, she reported that corruption in the form of bribery was “low and insignificant.”

The team had surveyed 1,334 civil servants and 22 percent of them had reported that favoritism influenced decisions regarding recruitment “sometimes” while 2.2 percent said favoritism “always” influenced recruitment decisions.

However, 64.4 percent of the respondents also said there was no need to pay bribes to get recruited against 0.4 percent who believed that officials had to be bribed “always”.

Tshering Lhamo however said that civil servants recruited through the Bhutan Civil Service Exams had no complaints related to their recruitment process. “The problems are prevalent in recruitment and promotion of in-service candidates and recruitment at the support staff level,” she said.

She added there was also perceived potential for collusion among HR committee members while recruiting candidates.

The research found lack of external observers in the recruitment process as one of the problems in the system and that the chairperson of the HR committee seems to influence the decision. It was also found that there was inconsistency in penalties meted out to civil servants who commit the same offence.

It was also found that the headquarters did not honour the HR recommendations from dzongkhags and thromdes. The research found that 47.8 percent of HR related complaints were against ministries.

“There is also a perception of political influence due to social ties,” Tshering Lhamo said. “If some body has a negative relation with an HR committee member it could backfire on the HR decision.”

There was only one complaint filed with the ACC related to performance management system during the last nine years. “Civil servants said promotions were time-bound rather than performance based,” she said.

Almost all civil servants received “excellent” rating, which the researchers said were indicative of the fact that the performance management system needed improvement.

There is also a perception among civil servants that it was more difficult for candidates from dzongkhags to get selected for trainings and promotions compared to civil servants from the headquarters. The research team shared that 26.3 percent of the respondents were from Thimphu.

One of the researchers, Prof Bertrand Venard from Nantes School of Management, France said the prevalence of corruption could lead to financial consequence for the state.

“If Bhutan implements the same level of control of corruption as the United States, the increase in performance of the civil servants would be equivalent to Nu 17.9M a year,” he said.

Nonetheless, the professor said that Bhutan was an outlier in terms of corruption prevalence in the region because of its Buddhist values and the quality of civil service among other factors.

He said some Buddhist countries are however, corrupt and that corruption was prevalent in low-income countries.

The findings, which will be submitted to the government, suggest for establishment of a whistle blowing system and a dedicated unit to listen to complaints in the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC).

“HR officers are bogged down with administrative works in larger dzongkhags and we recommended for recruitment of HR assistants,” Tshering Lhamo said.

RCSC chairperson Dasho Karma Tshiteem, who chaired the discussion, said the commission takes the recommendations positively. “Of course, there is corruption, but we are by and large clean,” he said.

Dasho Karma Tshiteem said most of the recommendations were relevant and that the commission would try to implement and address the problems. He said at a time when the ACC already has a whistle blowing system, establishing another in the RCSC would be reviewed properly.

Speaking at the closing session, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said the government will review the recommendations and discuss with ACC and the RCSC and give due attention.

Lyonchoen assured the government would extend all support to the ACC to curb corruption.  If we have to achieve national goals such as economic prosperity, there should be no place for corruption, he said.

The ACC and RIM organized the daylong conference.

MB Subba