Most complaint of public office function  abuse

Rinzin Wangchuk 

Complaints on abuse of functions by the public servants continue to be the highest among 11 broad areas of corruption offences specified under the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2011.

This was highlighted in the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) annual report of 2019, which was distributed to the relevant committees of the Parliament last month.

Abuse of functions, according to the report, indicates that public servants are either committing or omitting to perform acts amounting to favouritism or patronage in violation of laws, rules and regulations in discharging their functions to obtain advantage either for themselves or others.

“Abuse of functions has been consistently the highest alleged corruption offence, indicating the need to enhance ethics, integrity and professionalism of public servants, particularly, integrity in leadership,” the report stated.

Complaints on embezzlement, which came second, was observed to decreasing over the years from 58 in 2015 to 45 in 2016, 30 in 2017, 23 in 2018 and 16 in 2019.

During the reporting period, the ACC received 396 complaints, which is an increase of 63 complaints as compared to 2018.    

The report stated that email continued to be the predominant mode of lodging complaints. Telephone was the least preferred mode of filing a complaint.

Comparative analysis over the last five years, also shows that email is the most preferred mode of lodging complaints. “It may be attributed to increased access to internet and convenience,” stated the report.

The second most preferred mode of lodging complaints by post, however, has been decreasing.

ACC report also stated that the walk-in complaints have consistently remained the third popular mode of lodging complaint.

Of the 396 complaints received, 138 complaints or 34.8 percent were from known sources including 16 complaints referred by agencies, and 258 complaints or 65.1 percent were from anonymous sources.

The report stated that complaints from known sources have decreased while complaints from anonymous sources have increased over the years.

“This increasing trend of maintaining anonymity may be due to fear of reprisals. Therefore, the need to strengthen the protection of witnesses and informers.” the report stated.

The highest number of complaints, according to the report, was in the area of resources followed by contract and personnel. Resources include funds and properties other than natural resources and human resource.

Majority of the complaints on abuse of functions was in the area of resources with 70 complaints, of which 36 were against the local government officials.

As in the past, Thimphu saw the maximum complaints by place of occurrence. Of the 134 complaints against Thimphu, 53 complaints were on abuse of functions followed by embezzlement, conflicts of interest, bribery and false claim.

The report stated that Thimphu with the highest number of complaints may be attributed to complainants’ proximity to the ACC office, a comparatively greater level of awareness, a higher density of population, more economic activities and being the hub of public offices.

Lhuentse dzongkhag had the least number of complaints.

Complaints received agency wise showed the highest number was against the local government (LG) as in the past, followed by ministries.

The 104 complaints against the LG are further segregated by dzongkhag. Complaints against the gewogs of Thimphu and Punakha dzongkhags were the highest followed by Chukha and Wangduephodrang, There were no complaints against the gewogs of Trongsa and Bumthang.

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