… however it is yet to decide on its prosecution role

Rinzin Wangchuk 

The National Assembly’s plenary session will discuss on joint committee’s recommendation to give human resource (HR) independence to Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) today. The plenary session is a meeting that all members of NA will attend.

The NA’s Good Governance Committee (GGC) will present the decision of the joint committee (JC) from both houses to set the agenda for the joint sitting of the Parliament, according to GGC members.  The seventh session of the third Parliament will begin on June 2.

The JC on Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill 2021 on May 12 discussed and unanimously decided to give ACC more authority to fill up the HR gap which could not be fulfilled under Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC). “This HR independence could facilitate ACC to act promptly on a corruption case,” one JC member said.

The National Council’s plenary discussed JC’s proposal on May 13, according to GGC members from NC.

In the past Parliament session, the NA shot down ACC’s proposal  to amend sections 8 and 28 of the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan (ACAB) 2011 to provide HR independence while the NC endorsed in favour of ACC.

The NA recommended that the ACC determine its organizational structure in consultation with the RCSC and administer it independently.  The NC recommended ACC determine its organizational structure and administer it independently and have independence and power to regulate appointments, management and dismissal of its staff other than a member without consultation with the RCSC.

Many NA MPs did not support the NC recommendations and raised concerns about giving HR independence to the ACC justifying that it was an RCSC mandate to provide human resources in all the government agencies as per the Constitution

Then the sixth Session of the third Parliament entrusted the JC to carry out a study on the issue of human resources and the high attrition rate of employees in the ACC.

In an earlier interview with Kuensel, ACC chairperson Deki Pema said that in order for the Commission to fulfill its mandate efficiently and effectively,  it is imperative to delink ACC from the RCSC, which would provide operational flexibility in terms of human resource management.

She had explained that the Constitution guarantees independence to ACC as a Constitutional Office, and the Anti-Corruption Act 2006 provided full authority over its organisational structure and HR. However, these were brought under the ambit of the RCSC and the Civil Service Act during the enactment of the Civil Service Act in 2010.

In its submission to the Parliament last year, the Commission stated that the urgency of the matter given the pressing need for changes to be made to the organisational structure, and functional and operational strategy, in which human resources is a key component. “This is of vital importance for ACC to step up to the challenges and opportunities of the hour and truly fulfil its mandate,” stated in the submission.

Besides strong internal work processes and mechanisms in place, ACC’s competency-based framework would contribute towards a smooth separation from the RCSC, serving as a frame for developing the ACC Service Rules, designing a sound career progression ladder and further detailing the terms of reference for the various positions.

The current staff strength of ACC is 133 as of now, according to the Commission’s media spokesperson, Tashi Choden.

As per the Strategic Anti-Corruption Roadmap 2021-2030, the Commission Proposed 243 staff. However, RCSC approved 163 only.

Meanwhile, the JC is yet to re-deliberate and decide whether to repeal or retain the impugned section 128(3) of the ACAB. The section provides that the Commission may carry out its prosecution or take over the prosecution process when the case is either delayed without valid reasons, manipulated or hampered by interference.