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Bhutan Prioritizes Enhanced Transparency and Accountability in Response to Fraud Concerns

โ€ฆ๐’‚๐’…๐’…๐’“๐’†๐’”๐’”๐’Š๐’๐’ˆ ๐‘ต๐’–. 2,840.092 ๐‘ด๐’Š๐’๐’๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’Š๐’ ๐’Š๐’“๐’“๐’†๐’ˆ๐’–๐’๐’‚๐’“๐’Š๐’•๐’Š๐’†๐’”: ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐’–๐’“๐’ˆ๐’†๐’๐’„๐’š ๐’๐’‡ ๐’•๐’“๐’‚๐’๐’”๐’‘๐’‚๐’“๐’†๐’๐’„๐’š ๐’‚๐’๐’… ๐’‚๐’„๐’„๐’๐’–๐’๐’•๐’‚๐’ƒ๐’Š๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’š ๐’Š๐’ ๐’‘๐’–๐’ƒ๐’๐’Š๐’„ ๐’ˆ๐’๐’—๐’†๐’“๐’๐’‚๐’๐’„๐’†

Ngawang Jamphel

The staggering total irregularities of Nu. 2,840.092 million during FY 2022-23 shed light on the pervasive issue of fraud and corruption within Bhutan’s financial landscape. Specifically, fraud and corruption accounted for 1.39% of this amount, equating to Nu. 39.604 million. These cases, marked by deliberate intent to gain undue advantages, whether in monetary terms or otherwise, have triggered intensive investigations and drawn considerable attention from the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), signaling a growing concern for ensuring transparency and accountability in public governance.

Delving into the intricate details of these fraudulent activities reveals a wide spectrum of malpractices aimed at subverting the system for personal gain. Apart from direct fraud, other forms of deceit such as forgery and tampering of documents have also come to light, amounting to Nu. 0.474 million. This highlights the depth of deception entrenched within the system, eroding public trust and integrity in administrative processes.

One of the most alarming aspects is the brazen act of signature forgery, which accounted for Nu. 0.150 million of the reported irregularities. This not only compromises the authenticity of official documents but also undermines the credibility of the entire governance framework. Misappropriation, another significant concern, has been identified as a major contributor to the irregularities. Nu. 4.037 million is attributed to the misappropriation of cash and revenue, while a staggering Nu. 14.039 million is linked to the misappropriation of public resources. These figures signify a breach of public trust, as funds earmarked for specific purposes were diverted for personal gains, reflecting a critical need for stringent oversight and accountability mechanisms.

Moreover, the systemic failure in ensuring accountability and transparency in procurement processes is evident from payments totaling Nu. 14.660 million for works, goods, or services not executed or provided. This not only points to financial mismanagement but also raises concerns about the effectiveness of regulatory measures in place.

Despite tax evasion being relatively minor at Nu. 0.171 million, its impact on depriving the state of crucial revenue for development initiatives cannot be overlooked. Other malpractices and abuses, totaling Nu. 5.025 million, encompass a range of illicit activities that further exacerbate the challenges of governance and fiscal management, highlighting the urgent need for comprehensive reforms.

The recurrence of manipulation and tampering of records, with Nu. 0.336 million reported again, highlights the imperative for robust safeguards and oversight mechanisms to prevent such occurrences and restore public trust in financial institutions.

In response to these egregious acts, the ACC has taken proactive measures to investigate cases requiring further scrutiny. The commission’s intervention is crucial in holding perpetrators accountable and restoring faith in the integrity of public institutions. As Bhutan progresses on its developmental journey, combating fraud and corruption remains paramount to ensuring equitable and sustainable growth. The revelations of irregularities in FY 2022-23 serve as a stark reminder of the challenges ahead and the collective responsibility to uphold principles of transparency, accountability, and good governance.

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