Following rigorous advocacy programmes carried out in 2014 and 2015, asset declaration (AD) compliance improved in 2015 and 2016, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission annual report, 2016.

Presenting the report to the National Assembly on May 18, Nyishog-Saephu MP Kuenga said the total number of Schedule I declarants increased from 436 in 2014 to 462 in 2015, and Schedule II from 18,060 in 2014 to 19,793 in 2015.

Cabinet ministers, constitutionals post holders, member of parliaments, heads of armed forces, ambassadors, dzongdags and drangpons, executives of corporations and heads of civil society organisations fall under Schedule I.

All public servants, except teachers of position level P5 and above, gups and members of armed forces fall under Schedule II.

MP Kuenga reported that ACC collected penalties amounting to Nu 55,125 from Schedule I declarants and Nu 475,995 from Schedule II declarants as late fines. The money has been deposited into the state’s account.

The report also states that possible illicit enrichment is detected by the system in the form of Disproportionate Asset (DA). As flagged off by the system, there were 157 declarants with DA in Schedule I in 2016, which was significantly higher than the previous years.

However, after verification, all 157 DA cases were dropped as most were due to vehicles imported by the parliamentarians as an entitlement, increase in the Current Market Value of the properties, declaring spouse properties for the first time and typographical errors.

Similarly, there were 3,169 declarants with DA in Schedule II. Unlike in the past, a new methodology using the concept of inflow and outflow was applied to verify these DA cases.

Due to time constraint, lack of human resource and other competing priorities, only 1,500 DA flagged off by the system could be verified of which 1,446 were dropped while 54 fell under Discreet Enquiry (DE) or further action. Had the existing method of DA verification been applied, all DA cases would have been dropped.

Since the new AD Rules have not been implemented, ACC at present decided to defer taking action on those 54 declarants who fall under DE. They will however be under the “watch list” for future reference. The lessons learnt from the concept of inflow and outflow methodology will be applied for systemic improvement in the new AD system.

MB Subba