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EDITORIAL-Pursuing Zero Corruption for a Prosperous Bhutan

Corruption is a corrosive force that eats away at the foundations of a nationโ€™s progress and prosperity. In Bhutan, recent reports from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) have shed light on both positive developments and persistent challenges in our ongoing battle against corruption. As a nation that values Gross National Happiness, it is crucial that we remain steadfast in our pursuit of zero corruption, recognizing that it is not just an ethical imperative but also a fundamental pillar of our development and the well-being of our citizens.

The ACCโ€™s Annual Report for 2022-23 brings encouraging news of a significant reduction in corruption cases compared to the previous year. This achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the ACC in its mission to combat corruption. However, it is important to remember that the fight against corruption is an ongoing battle, and we must remain vigilant and committed.

In the past year, the ACC received 342 corruption reports, marking a noteworthy decrease of 21.4% from the previous year. This reduction is a positive sign that the public is increasingly willing to report corrupt practices and trusts in the ACCโ€™s ability to address these issues. It reflects a growing awareness among our citizens about the detrimental effects of corruption on our society and the need to eradicate it.

The areas most susceptible to corruption, as highlighted in the report, include public revenue, resources, and contracts. These are critical sectors that impact the lives of ordinary Bhutanese citizens. Ensuring transparency and accountability in these areas is essential for the equitable distribution of resources and the overall well-being of our society.

The ACCโ€™s efforts have not gone unnoticed, and they deserve our full support. One of the key takeaways from the report is the need for increased financial support for the ACC and stronger collaboration with government agencies. To achieve zero corruption, we must equip the ACC with the necessary resources and authority to carry out its mandate effectively.

Zero corruption should not be viewed as an unattainable goal but rather as a guiding principle that informs our actions and policies at all levels of government and society. It is not just about punishing wrongdoers but also about creating an environment where corruption finds no fertile ground to take root.

Minimum corruption reflects the progress of a nation and the sound health of its institutions. It ensures that public resources are used for the benefit of all citizens, rather than lining the pockets of a few. It promotes trust in government institutions and fosters a conducive environment for investment and economic growth.

The ACCโ€™s efforts to implement preventive measures through its Anti-Corruption Strategy 2019-2023, including the Organizational Integrity Plan (OIP), are commendable. However, as the report suggests, there is room for improvement in the implementation of grievance redressal mechanisms and integrity vetting. These areas need attention and resources to ensure that corruption is prevented at its source.

Furthermore, the report highlights the importance of public education and awareness campaigns. To achieve zero corruption, we must involve all segments of society, from grassroots communities to government agencies. Public education efforts by the ACC should be expanded to reach every corner of our nation, ensuring that every citizen understands the detrimental effects of corruption and the role they can play in eradicating it.

Additionally, budgetary constraints must be addressed to sustain the ACCโ€™s efforts in tackling the increasing corruption caseload. The government should explore alternative budget allocation mechanisms to ensure that the ACC has the necessary resources to fulfill its vital role.

Finally, addressing delays in resolving corruption cases is crucial for the criminal justice system. Collaborative efforts involving Parliamentโ€™s relevant Standing Committees can help identify and address institutional challenges in this regard.

The pursuit of zero corruption is not just a lofty goal; it is an essential commitment to the well-being and prosperity of our nation. Bhutanโ€™s unique focus on Gross National Happiness demands that we prioritize the eradication of corruption as a core element of our national agenda. The ACC, with our support and the backing of government agencies, can lead the way in achieving this noble objective. A Bhutan free from corruption will be a beacon of hope, progress, and happiness for generations to come.

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