ACC Chairperson Dasho Neten Zangmo said, “2012 has been of the exciting years for the ACC and for the year to culminate with the gracious visit of His Majesty is profoundly reinvigorating and reassuring.”
His Majesty assured the ACC and all institutions complete support as they sought to fulfil their important role in building a successful democracy and nation.
Dasho said, “His Majesty’s address to the ACC cadre instilled in us a greater sense of purpose and courage in fulfilling our challenging responsibility in the larger interests of building a strong nation.”
His Majesty said he was deeply pleased to be able to spend the final official function on the last day of 2012 with the staff of the ACC on this important occasion.
Upon their request, His Majesty granted them Badges of Integrity to ACC officials.
“Receiving the badge of integrity from His Majesty is a great honour for the foot soldiers of ACC. The badge is an ACC identity and a pledge to the highest levels of integrity,” said the ACC Chairperson.
His Majesty reminded the gathering of the messages conveyed in the recent National Day Address. His Majesty said that all the institutions vital to democracy had gained four and a half years of experience in democracy.
“Experience is critical. Experience teaches us to solve problems and clear disagreements. It is only through experience that we can we find the knowledge to set the right precedents, to strengthen democracy and to build a bright future.”
His Majesty also said that these institutions were growing in the right direction but that all Bhutanese must remind themselves that this is just the beginning, and much work remains to be done.
The ACC in its message on foundation day on its website said, “On 31st December 2005, His Majesty the Fourth King decreed (see Kasho on pg 12) that an office of the anti-corruption commission (Commission) be established before the adoption of the Constitution so that a strong foundation for the Commission to effectively carry out its functions and responsibilities is built. As the parliamentary democracy in the country was being established, it was very important to curb and root out corruption from the very beginning.”
The ACC said that the seven years had been a long and arduous journey for the young Commission.
ACC which started with four people, who worked from cramped private premises has now grown to sixty-six members and has a new modern facility that is better equipped.
The ACC said that given the important mandate of the Commission in a young democracy with growing political and socio-economic challenges, the journey will continue to be long and arduous.
“The Commission has the compelling duty to establish itself as an edifice of incorruptibility and trustworthiness, bracing itself for the long journey. Therefore, people working in the Commission have to be selfless, highly motivated and committed with the highest standards of integrity, professionalism and a deep sense of purpose,” said the ACC.
ACC said that the organizational ethos has to sustainably nurture such supreme qualities in the people working in the Commission. The Commission pointed out that it is the incumbent commissioners’ unconditional commitment to build the Commission into an institution of pride and dignity, an institution that will be sought after by every Bhutanese citizen.
“As a small step towards that, the Commission, for the first time, is commemorating its Foundation Day on 31 December 2012, an occasion of celebration, pride, reinvigoration and not the least of all of inspiration to continue the arduous journey fearlessly but responsibly, resolutely but humbly and fairly,” said the ACC.
The ACC said that Foundation Day simply is a move towards building a strong and motivated anti-corruption cadre.
Dasho Neten Zangmo said, “Foundation day is not merely a celebration, but a day of introspection and reminder of the important responsibility of ACC and recommitment to continue the fight fearlessly but responsibly against corruption.”
The ACC from 2006 to 2012 apart from investigating more than a 100 cases also carried out several anti corruption programs and awareness sessions.
The ACC, however, still has a backlog of more than 400 cases concerning land, embezzlement, abuse of power, procurement etc.
ACC from 2006 to 2012
In 2006 ACC took on its first few corruption cases like the RICBL, Thimphu City Corporation land, Nyisho Gewog, Gelephu land transfer and College of Natural Resources all of which have been successfully prosecuted.
In the same year Bhutan was ranked for the first time on the Transparency International Corruption Index at 32 out of 163 countries.
The Asset Declaration system was also implemented for the first time along with anti corruption advocacy campaigns in 10 Dzongkhags. The 85th session of the National Assembly passed the Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan 2006
In 2007 a Corruption Perception Survey was conducted and published. This established the baseline for assessing trends, causes and forms of corruption in the country. ACC became the 28th member of the ADB/OECD Anti-Corruption Initiative for Asia-Pacific Region.
In 2008 ACC carried out a major investigation into the mining industry called the Samtse Mines case whereby it successfully prosecuted all the accused. Asset Declaration Rules (ADR) and Gift (Restriction) Rules were discussed with the stakeholders in a public forum and adopted for implementation.
ACC carried out a road show in about 15 Dzongkhags to create awareness on elections. This program reached to over 40,000 citizens. Teams were also deployed in various Dzongkhags for surveillance to deter corruption in politics. The Gelephu PDP candidate was disqualified after an ACC investigation.
His Majesty conferred Druk Thuksey and red scarf to the chairperson on the National Day.
In 2009 ACC investigated two major cases of MoH procurement of drugs and medical equipments and the Vocational Training Institute in Rangjung.
The National Anti Corruption Strategy Framework was adopted by the government as a national anti-corruption document for implementation by all agencies to curb corruption. The Committee of Secretaries was entrusted with the role of implementing and monitoring the strategy. The ACC so far has found weak implementation. The ACC has developed a monitoring and evaluation tool, which is yet to be piloted by the government.
In 2010 ACC investigated and prosecuted expatriates in a case of bribery in the hydro projects. In the same year the National Integrity Assessment survey report conducted in 2009 was launched. The ACC carried out a Gewog advocacy program resumed covering 70 gewogs (blocks) involving about 7,000 local government officials and citizens who were educated on the causes, forms and impacts of corruption. The people were also briefed on their role in demanding accountability from local officials
In 2011 ACC investigated the Road Networks project funded by the Asian Development Bank and also the Gyelpozhing land case. Anti-Corruption Act of Bhutan, 2011, a standalone anti-corruption act passed by the Parliament.ACC also began its process of restructuring in the same year.
In 2012 ACC investigated and submitted its report on the Bajo plot allotment on Royal Command. It also submitted a report on procurement violations in the Supreme Court Construction on the request of the Supreme Court. The ACC also started operating from its new premises. Partnership in Transparency Fund consultants started work on ACC ‘Change Management Program,’ which had plans consisting of development and implementation of an “Integrity Diagnostic Tool”, a “Communications Strategy” and an “HR development recommendation.”