The National Assembly rejected the idea to establish an office of ombudsman and instead pushed the ball back to the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) court.
The need for an ombudsman’s office was articulated by the ACC. The proposal was discussed in the last session of the National Assembly. The Assembly directed the good governance committee of the house to look into the feasibility of such an office.
During the deliberation on November 22, the committee’s deputy chair Kuenga reported that a great deal of time and effort of the ACC is consumed by the complaints of administrative nature, leaving little time for the commission to deal with serious corruption cases.
“The dealing with such cases through an ombudsman’s office would enable the ACC to concentrate on its core mandate,” he said.
Even after screening the administrative cases, those that do not warrant investigation are referred to the respective agencies for necessary actions.
“Such referrals are subject to conflict of interest and non-uniformity in actions taken,” he said.
Drametse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said that ACC Act clearly stipulates that it should handle any case related to corruption, be it administrative, abuse of power, or embezzlement.
The core issue, he said, was human resource, which could be solved in consultation with the Royal Civil Service Commission. Once this is addressed, he said, the ACC has the authority to form a division or department within the commission to handle cases of administrative nature.
“If the ACC resorts to forming a separate division or department, the commission has the authority and doesn’t merit a discussion in the house,” he said.
However, the committee members argued that establishing an ombudsman’s office would reduce the ACC’s burden and complaints.
“In the future, we can’t say what will happen. But for now, human resource and monetary support is needed,” said Finance Minister Namgay Dorji.
Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said that establishing an ombudsman office would cause conflict with ACC’s role and in turn confuse the people.
“No corruption is big or small, corruption is corruption,” he said.
Khamdang Ramjar MP Sonam Dondhup Dorjee also said that people were already confused as to where to take their grievances and complaints. Having an office of ombudsman would confuse the people more.
He said separate law and rules would be needed for establishment of such office.
The house resolved that the commission in consultation with civil service commission should strengthen its human resource capacity and the government would provide financial support.
It was also decided that depending on the need, in future, establishment of such office may be explored.