Inadequacies remain in judiciary: RAA

ACC conducts thematic sessions to combat corruption

In the last couple of years, reports from the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have been showing consistent corruption reports, with parliamentary resolutions calling for strengthened anti-corruption measures within Local Government (LG) functionaries. In order to counter this, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) of Bhutan, has started a thematic training session themed ‘Strengthening Local Governance through Ethics, Integrity and Professionalism.’ According to the ACC’s media focal person, it covers LG functionaries of all the 20 Dzongkhags (comprising of Sector Heads, Gups, GAOs, and Mangmis) and four Thromdes (Sector comprising of Heads, and Thuemis).

Through these thematic training sessions, the ACC aims to equip the professionals with required knowledge, skills, and tools to reinforce ethical competence and proactively mitigate corruption risks in their respective profession or function.

The focal person informed that through these thematic training sessions, the ACC expects to nurture individuals with impeccable character, emphasizing integrity as a quintessential aspect of professional excellence and cultivate a collective commitment towards zero tolerance to corruption. “Further, the training session aims to equip individuals with fundamental knowledge on integrity and anti-corruption tools, facilitating them to streamline systemic loopholes in the respective agencies and ultimately aligning with His Majesty’s overarching vision of building a corruption free and value-laden society,” she added.

Thematic session is a target-specific training session tailored towards addressing vulnerability-based corruption risks within specific professional domains. These thematic areas are determined based on the trend analysis of complaints and cases investigated by the ACC, and findings of the National Integrity Assessment 2022 and other related studies conducted. The media focal person also informed that since the introduction of such targeted thematic training sessions in 2018, more than 919 LG officials have been trained to ensure that they have the highest ethical competence and adequate knowledge to advance good governance principles at the grass root level.

Meanwhile, the Thimphu Dzongkhag Tshogdue Thrizin, Gado said that during the thematic session, ACC made the LG officials understand more on the “do’s and don’ts,” conflict of interest and asset declaration benefits and consequences.  Ngangla Gewog Administrative officer,Zhemgang, Tashi Choden, said the session helped people to think of oneself as service provider the position of the dzongkhag and the country. “It reflected  the people’s perceptions about service providers in different dzongkhags,” she said, adding that the program  will help change and make conscious, to avoid corruption, which may be committed unknowingly.

One  LG official from Tang Gewog, Bumthang said that the thematic session has created awareness among the LG functionaries.

Meanwhile, in 2020  there were 104 complaints against local governments, 66 complaints pertained to abuse of functions, three on embezzlement and one on bribery. 39 complaints were related to resources, followed by 12 related to contract and seven related to natural resources. Abuse of function was the major corruption offence constituting of 174 complaints followed by allegation on embezzlement with 16 complaints.

In the 2021-2022 FY too, with regard to complaints against agencies, LG constituted the highest number of complaints with 107 cases followed by ministries with 34 cases and dzongkhag administrations with 24.

However, there was improvement in the 2022-2023 report, where the Anti-Corruption Commission received over 340 cases of corruption. Unlike former years LGs were not top of the list. Ministries had the highest number of corruption cases followed by gewog and district administrations.

The thematic sessions began with Thimphu Dzongkhag which was covered in two days, beginning March 12th. Three teams with the officials from the Department of Prevention & Education and Regional Offices of the ACC are currently in the field to conduct thematic training sessions in the Western, Central, and Eastern regions. The team is currently in Mongar.  Apart from Thimphu and Mongar, the ACC has successfully conducted thematic training sessions in Lhuntse, Trongsa and Zhemgang.

The sessions will continue till March 28th. A budget of more than Nu 1 million has been worked out for the program.

By Sangay Rabten, Thimphu