With diversification in the socio-economic and political dimensions, Chairperson of Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Kinley Yangzom, said that it was obvious that corruption was going to upsurge, both in form and magnitude in the country at International Anti-Corruption Day yesterday.
The theme this year ‘Corruption: an impediment to the Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs), called for the fight against corruption towards achieving the SDGs.
As per the World Economic Forum, it is estimated that the cost of corruption is more than five percent of global gross domestic product with over one trillion US dollars paid in bribes each year.
Studies reveal that the majority of the countries are failing to make serious inroads against corruption including developed countries.
Bhutan is no exception and not immune to such challenges Kinley Yangzom said.
To create awareness especially to the business community and to promote ethical business, the ACC called for enhancing the collaboration of key players and stakeholders from private sectors.
Kinley Yangzom said that the sector would play a significant role in complementing the socio-economic development of the country.
She said that the business sector was characterised by fraud and corruption, which was impeding national development.
According to the World Economic Forum, most of the integrity issues pertaining to the private sector include bribery, improper political contributions, improper charitable contributions and sponsorships, improper facilitation, gifts, and hospitality expenses among others.
It was therefore critical to take anti-corruption measures to establish effective integrity infrastructure to combat business sector corruption.
In an effort to enhance sustainable ethical business practices in the country, Kinley Yangzom said that ACC with a multi-sector task force introduced Business Integrity Initiative of Bhutan- in 2017.
As part of the initiative, 15 Druk Holding and Investment portfolio and listed companies had voluntarily signed the Corporate Integrity Pledge committing to operate their business with the highest standards of corporate integrity.
“It’s a work-in-progress towards certification for anti-bribery magnitude.”
With the aim to embrace fair and healthy competition among private sectors, the ACC is currently working with six private companies.
Yarkay Group Private Limited signed the first private Corporate Integrity Pledge yesterday.
Towards reducing corruption in the 12th Plan, the government has adopted the National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Strategy, 2019-2023, outlining strategies and interventions to strengthen the anti-corruption regime in the country.
She said that the incidence of corruption was considerably lower compared to other countries.
According to the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, Bhutan is ranked as 25th least corrupt country out of 180 countries or territories in 2018, compared to its 49th rank 10 years ago in 2009.
Kinley Yangzom said that the consistent improvement indicates that the effort to control corruption in the country was on track. “But we cannot afford to be complacent.”
Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the government would not tolerate corruption of any proportion at any level.
Meanwhile, Resident Representative of UNDP Bhutan, Azusa Kubota, said that for small businesses and particularly young entrepreneurs, the challenges around business integrity were enormous.
“Particularly young entrepreneurs globally are faced with severe ethical dilemmas around pressures to succeed in business and making profits.”
UNDP Bhutan supported the capacity building of Business Integrity Initiative of Bhutan (BIIB) task force members on fundamental skills in corporate governance and ethics.
The BIIB initiative is expected to have great potential in promoting clean businesses.
Bhutan joined the international community in observing the International Anti-Corruption Day since 2004 to raise public awareness of corruption.