The release of Transparency International’s 2023 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) has brought attention to the global landscape of corruption, with Denmark leading for the sixth consecutive year. Bhutan, maintaining a commendable score of 68 and securing the 26th position among 180 countries, has experienced a slight drop in its ranking. This opinion critically examines key findings, assesses Bhutan’s situation, and proposes comprehensive strategies involving the government, the Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan, and citizens to elevate the country’s status in the global corruption index.
Bhutan’s consistent commitment to comprehensive development is evident through its emphasis on human resource development, equitable public resource allocation, and prudent macroeconomic policies. The country’s success in maintaining a stable ranking in the Asia-Pacific region reflects its dedication to sustainable growth, particularly in health, education, and economic stability.
However, Bhutan’s recent dip in the CPI could be attributed to factors such as the rise in scores of other nations, highlighting the need for continuous improvement. The Global Insight Country Risk Ratings accentuate Bhutan’s strengths in ‘Political Stability and Absence of Violence,’ ‘Rule of Law,’ and ‘Control of Corruption.’ Yet, persistent weaknesses in ‘Regulatory Quality’ indicate the urgency for significant reforms in the business regulatory environment and tax collection efficiency.
The Country Policy and Institutional Assessment (CPIA) identifies crucial areas requiring attention, including social protection policies, financial sector reforms, and enhancements in the business regulatory environment. Bhutan’s commitment to sustainable socio-economic and political development is commendable, but focusing on these identified areas could pave the way for substantial progress.
Bhutan needs to address labor market and poverty concerns through better social protection policies, ensuring citizen welfare for a more inclusive and just society. Significant reforms in the financial sector are essential to tackle vulnerabilities and corruption, contributing to a more resilient and trustworthy economic system. Substantial improvements in the business regulatory environment are necessary to foster job creation, investment, and productivity, attracting both local and foreign investors. Enhancing the efficiency of revenue mobilization is crucial for addressing weaknesses in the tax structure and collection methods, contributing to economic stability.
The Anti-Corruption Commission of Bhutan plays a pivotal role in the nation’s fight against corruption. To strengthen its impact and contribute to an improved corruption perception, the commission should consider measures such as strengthening its enforcement and investigative capabilities, launching public awareness campaigns on the detrimental effects of corruption, and collaborating closely with various government agencies to ensure a coordinated and comprehensive approach.
The general citizenry holds immense power in shaping the country’s future. By actively participating in the fight against corruption, citizens can contribute significantly to a corruption-free Bhutan. Implementing robust whistleblower protection mechanisms encourages citizens to come forward with information on corrupt practices, enhancing transparency and accountability. Inculcating ethical values in education and society at large creates a foundation for a corruption-free culture, with a focus on educating citizens, especially the youth, about the detrimental effects of corruption and the importance of integrity. Active engagement in civil society organizations that focus on anti-corruption initiatives provides citizens with a platform to voice concerns, participate in advocacy, and contribute to policy discussions aimed at combating corruption.
A corruption-free Bhutan is not merely a statistic on an international index; it is a fundamental requirement for the nation’s sustainable development and global reputation. A corruption-free environment attracts domestic and foreign investments, fostering economic growth, job creation, and increased opportunities. It ensures equitable public resource allocation, promoting social justice and inclusivity, while also contributing to a positive global reputation, attracting diplomatic and trade relations. A corruption-free society strengthens democratic institutions, ensuring fair electoral processes, adherence to legal standards, and a balanced governance structure.
Bhutan’s steady commitment to comprehensive development is commendable, but the recent drop in its corruption perception index calls for proactive measures. The government, the Anti-Corruption Commission, and citizens all have crucial roles to play in building a corruption-free Bhutan. Implementing comprehensive reforms in social protection policies, financial sectors, and business regulatory environments is imperative. The Anti-Corruption Commission should enhance its enforcement capabilities and engage in public awareness campaigns, while citizens should actively participate in fostering ethical values and contributing to civil society initiatives. A corruption-free Bhutan is not just an aspiration; it is a necessity for sustainable development, economic growth, and a positive global reputation. The time is ripe for Bhutan to rise to the challenge and emerge as a beacon of transparency and integrity on the world stage.