Dechen Dolkar

While re-deliberating the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2021, the National Assembly (NA) did not support giving the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) human resource (HR) independence.

The NA recommended that the Commission determine its organisational structure in consultation with the Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) and administer it independently.

The Commission shall have independence and powers to regulate appointments, management, and dismissal of its staff other than a member in accordance with the Civil Service Act.

The National Council (NC) had recommended the Commission determine its organisational structure and administer it independently and have independence and powers to regulate appointments, management and dismissal of its staff other than a member without consultation with the RCSC.

The Bill was referred to the NC on June 7 after it was adopted from the NA during the 5th Session of the Third Parliament.

The Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee, Gomdar-Dewathang MP Ugyen Dorji presented the 52 recommendations from the NC.

As per the ACC’s annual report 2020-2021, 24 staff with diverse experiences and position levels joined the ACC and 14 officials resigned.

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji said that per research, no agency so far has adequate staff. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs alone has a shortage of 20 staff.

“If they (ACC) are short on staff they should clearly mention how it has affected their work so that we can support them,” Lyonpo said.

Lyonpo said that it was an RCSC mandate to provide human resources in all the government agencies as per the Constitution.

Many MPs did not support the NC recommendations and raised concerns about giving HR independence to the ACC.

MP Ugyen Tshering said that the RCSC is ready to give independence to have a small and compact civil service. However, he said that when the RCSC granted independence to the Election Commission of Bhutan, it could not avail of training opportunities.

Similarly, Wamrong MP Karma Thinley said that there was no lateral growth when given HR independence and there is a high rate of attrition.

The House also didn’t support the NC’s recommendation to amend the clauses related to offences under the Bill and retained the provisions passed by the NA.

Further, the House also retained the earlier clause where the Commission could carry out its own prosecution.

The House deliberated on all the recommendations before endorsing the decision of the House with 37 ‘yes’, two ‘no’ and one abstain out of 40 members present and voting.

The recommendations from NC which were not passed by the NA will be deliberated in a Joint Sitting.