National Corruption Barometer Survey (NCBS) conducted by the Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI) launched yesterday

Corruption: Favouritism and nepotism in recruitment, promotion and transfer are the most prevalent forms of corruption in the country. This is followed by misuse of public funds and facilities, and the deliberate delaying of decisions with corrupt motives.

Discriminatory and non-uniform application of laws and rules are the main causes of corruption in the country. Other noticeable factors leading to corruption are lengthy procedures, a weak and ineffective media and a strong protective social net of the accused. Weak leadership, lack of information and transparency on rules and procedures, and poor or lack of robust accountability mechanisms in place were found to play a significant role in increasing corruption in the country.

These findings were based on the National Corruption Barometer Survey (NCBS) conducted by Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI), which was launched in Thimphu yesterday.

Other findings of the survey include corruption being highly concentrated at the top decision making level while corruption was thought to be comparatively low at the lower supervisory level. The most alarming findings from the survey is that more than a quarter (25.32 percent) of respondents thought that corruption was normal, and that everyone indulged in it thinking it was normal. The report states that these findings indicate the existence of pervasive corruption in the country and a high level of acceptance of corruption as a norm in the society.

The survey also found that another 13.43 percent were afraid that combating corruption would be an uphill task as doing so would require taking on a powerful nexus of judges, bureaucrats, politicians, and businesses. The report states that in a close-knit society, where interdependence is quite the norm, there would not be many who would risk being excluded from this circle of interdependence.

There were other findings such as discrimination on the basis of social status as one of the common problems faced by people on a daily basis while accessing public services. About 20 percent of respondents admitted that such kind of discrimination was the key problem in accessing public services and that the trend is on the rise.

The report also states that the general perception among the people is that the corruption level has been steadily increasing since the introduction of democracy in the country. Around a third (31.5 percent) stated that the level of corruption has ‘increased somewhat’ after the introduction of democracy.

Executive director of NCBS, Pema Lhamo, said the survey was conducted to assess the perception of corruption and to establish a reference point for awareness, education and advocacy on corruption prevention.

“The survey has interviewed a cross section of people from all walks of life. However, the research is still limited and unable to answer questions particularly dynamics of corruption at various sectoral, sub-sectoral and institutional levels both nationally and locally. The interventions against corruption need to match the causes in order for anti-corruption actions to be effective,” Pema Lhamo said.

The study will serve as a baseline for BTI as the findings of the survey will be useful in assessing a general level of corruption experience and perception. BTI will use the findings of the report to design relevant interventions to strengthen initiatives against corruption, Pema Lhamo said.

“The study has found that governance score of selected public institutions are on track. The study also clearly indicates the need for more in-depth studies to be carried out on the governance aspect such as governance codes and regulations, human resource regulations and policies, and other internal control systems to improve governance practices,” Pema Lhamo said.

The study also calls for organisations such as the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) and the BTI to urgently strengthen their anti-corruption activities and programme, and the government to address good governance issues much more seriously that ever before, Pema Lhamo added.

The survey was conducted among 1,200 people from the rural and urban areas.

ACC Chairperson, Kinley Yangzom, said that while agencies such as ACC and BTI can lead the fight against corruption, it is the constitutional duty of every Bhutanese to uphold justice and to act against corruption.

“We must promote accountability, transparency and integrity, and it must start with ourselves – each one of us must practice and promote integrity and stand united in spirit and purpose against the social menace – corruption,” Kinley Yangzom said.

Thinley Zangmo