The recently released National Integrity Assessment (NIA) 2022 paints a concerning picture of corruption in our country. According to the report, Abuse of Power, Bribery, and Embezzlement stand as the top three perceived prevalent forms of corruption. Among them, Abuse of Power consistently remains the highest alleged corruption offense, with a significant number of complaints qualifying for investigation. This disturbing trend calls for urgent action and a robust check and balance mechanism.
To combat corruption effectively, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) must take decisive steps to strengthen the culture of integrity at both individual and institutional levels across public and private agencies. While investigating corruption cases is crucial, prevention through education and awareness is equally vital. The ACC has already launched several initiatives aimed at promoting an ethical climate in the public sector.
One of these initiatives is the Integrity Vetting System, implemented in personnel management, public procurements, and elections. This system aims to identify and promote individuals with higher standards of ethics and integrity, thereby ensuring that those in positions of power are less susceptible to engaging in corrupt practices. Additionally, the adoption of the Model Public Service Code of Conduct clearly informs public servants about the expected ethical standards, setting a strong foundation for responsible and honest governance.
However, while these efforts are commendable, their true impact is yet to be seen. It is crucial for the ACC to diligently monitor and evaluate the outcomes of these initiatives to ensure that they effectively contribute to reducing corruption in our nation.
Moreover, it is essential to recognize that the happiness index of our country is intrinsically tied to the prevalence of corruption. Bhutan’s reputation as one of the happiest countries in the world is largely attributed to the low levels of corruption within its society. By striving to become a corruption-free nation, we can strengthen the pillars of happiness and ensure a better quality of life for our citizens.
Beyond the moral imperative, curbing corruption is vital for achieving balanced development and increasing our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Corruption hinders economic growth, diverts funds from essential public services, and discourages foreign investment. By eradicating corruption, we create an environment conducive to sustainable development, prosperity, and progress.
To achieve the dream of becoming a truly corruption-free nation, we must adopt a comprehensive approach. This includes strengthening anti-corruption laws, ensuring an independent judiciary, enhancing public awareness about the detrimental effects of corruption, and promoting a culture of transparency and accountability.
The responsibility to combat corruption does not solely lie with the ACC; it is a collective effort that requires the commitment of every citizen, public and private institutions, and the government. Citizens must refuse to participate in corrupt practices and report any incidents of corruption they encounter. Institutions must prioritize ethical values and create an environment where integrity is upheld. The government must provide adequate resources and support to the ACC, enabling them to carry out their mandate effectively.
While the road to a corruption-free society may be challenging, it is not an insurmountable task. With strong determination and collective action, we can make significant strides in reducing corruption in our country. Let us all work together to build a nation founded on the principles of honesty, integrity, and transparency. A corruption-free Bhutan will not only enhance our global reputation but also ensure the wellbeing and prosperity of our beloved nation.