Parliamentarians express concern over back-log of cases

Parliamentarians express concern over back-log of cases

About Nu 6bn total unresolved irregularities were reported for the periods 2010 – 2021

During the ninth session of the third parliament, Bhutan’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented a concerning report on unresolved irregularities, revealing a staggering amount of about Nu 6billion (bn). The report, presented to the parliament on July 5, 2023, has sparked discussions among Members of Parliament (MPs) who have offered their suggestions for effective resolution.

Opposition Leader, Dorji Wangdi emphasized the importance of involving the parliament, the Minister of Finance, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), and other relevant agencies to address the remaining cases of irregularities. He proposed a tri-parted approach as a policy solution to tackle these unsolved issues.

Meanwhile, MP Ugyen Wangdi, from Dramedtse Ngatshang constituency, expressed concerns over the significant number of unresolved cases, particularly from the years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, and 2018. While efforts were made to establish a separate body for the ACC to combat corruption, the MP suggested that the ACC prioritize corruption cases within 2-3 years to prevent the misuse of government funds and aid in their recovery.

Additionally, MP Ugyen Tshering from Paro recommended a collaborative approach involving the government, ACC, and relevant stakeholders to effectively resolve pending cases in court. The MP believed that discussions among all parties would yield better results than mere recommendations.

Furthermore, MP Tshewang Lhamo from Bongo-Chacha emphasized the urgency of implementing provisions from the Judiciary Act to address the existing backlog of cases.

Meanwhile, the PAC report revealed the alarming amount of unresolved irregularities in Bhutan’s financial system. The total outstanding irregularities from 2010 to 2021 amounted to Nu 6,746.089 million. The report categorized these irregularities by agency and year, with ministries topping the list, followed by districts, Dungkhags, Gewogs, autonomous agencies, corporations, financial institutions, non-government organizations (NGOs), hydro power projects, and compliance audits.

Despite efforts to address the irregularities, only Nu 1.659 billion (24.60%) of the total irregularities from the Annual Audit Report (AAR) 2010-2021 were resolved as of March 2023. This leaves a substantial balance of Nu 5.086 billion (75.40%) still unresolved.

The report also highlighted the varying success rates in resolving irregularities by year. AAR 2011 witnessed the highest percentage of irregularities being resolved, with all identified issues successfully addressed. In contrast, AAR 2012 and AAR 2017 had the lowest percentages of irregularities resolved, with only 2.63% and 1.48%, respectively.

Out of the total unresolved balance of Nu 5,086.632 million from AAR 2010-2021, the report identified specific cases contributing to the backlog. There were 151 sub judice cases worth Nu 270.446 million (5.32%), awaiting court decisions. Additionally, 53 cases worth Nu 52.786 million (1.04%) were pending enforcement of judgments, and 14 cases worth Nu 0.09 million (0.002%) awaited action by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

The PAC report also shed light on a significant issue regarding auditees’ lack of diligence in providing timely follow-up information to the Royal Audit Authority (RAA). This failure resulted in Nu 14.86 million being classified as an unidentified deposit with the RAA. The committee emphasized the need for auditees to promptly provide adequate information and urged the RAA to take appropriate action and provide updates on pending cases.

Nidup Lhamo from Thimphu