Bhutan ranks 24th in 2020 corruption perception index

According to the Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perception Index, Bhutan is ranked the 24th least corrupt country out of 180 countries with a score of 68. Bhutan was ranked 25th in 2019. The consistent progress in the rank and the score since 2012 indicates that the efforts to control corruption in the country are well on track.

The Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) in a press release said since 2012, Bhutan has improved its rank significantly from 33 in 2012 to 24 today and score from 63 in 2012 to 68 today, while the score of 68 has been constant for the last three years.

It said that the country’s rank of 24 and the score of 68 is the best that Bhutan has achieved since 2006. Stagnation of the score at 68 for the third consecutive year indicates that Bhutan is at least effective in maintaining the status quo or ensuring momentum of preventing and combating corruption in the public sector.

“As we progress, the general analysis of the Index reveals that Bhutan must intensify the anti-corruption efforts keeping pace with the changes in the socio-economic context. Otherwise, it will be challenging for a developing country like ours to do better or even to maintain the status with the nations ranked above us having robust anti-corruption systems and infrastructure. With the pandemic, it has become even more imperative for Bhutan to ensure that the scarce resources are used judiciously for a swift and meaningful recovery,” ACC said.

The ACC said that the CPI has been used as one of the indicators to gauge the level of corruption in the public sector in Bhutan. In the 12th Five Year Plan, the country’s score in the CPI complements the national indicators that measures prevalence and perception on corruption.

Analysis of the scores of the top 25 ranked countries in the last 10 years indicate that only 32 percent of the top-ranking countries improved their CPI score, highest being Estonia (by 11 scores) followed by Austria (7) and Bhutan (5). More than 52 percent of the countries saw significant reduction in their scores. The 2020 CPI Report highlights that nearly half of all countries have been stagnant on the CPI for almost a decade. The 2019 CPI ranked USA at the 23rd position with a score of 69. However, in 2020 the USA dropped its score by 2 points hence it is ranked below Bhutan, dropping to 25th.

According to the Transparency International, with the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, reports on corruption resonated worldwide. Corruption emasculate global health response to COVID-19 as well as contributing to persistent crisis of democracy.

This year’s CPI revealed that the crisis response to the pandemic indicated major loopholes in the health framework and democratic institutions where instead of those in need, individuals with power or those who held government financial control served their own interests. The 2020 CPI thus, reveals that the anti- corruption efforts must be enhanced to guarantee a fair and just revival as the world transitions from catastrophe to recovery.

Therefore, in order to combat pandemic and curtail corruption, the TI recommends to mainstream anti-corruption policies in COVID-19 related programmes and plans; Strengthen oversight institutions including technological advancement to enable real time monitoring, ensure open and transparent contracting including risk assessment of vulnerable areas, Promote civic space to help in monitoring of resource management; and  Publish relevant data and guarantee its access to ensure fair and equitable policy responses.

Bhutan has been continuously placed at sixth position for over nine years among the countries in the Asia Pacific region. Further, Bhutan is the cleanest country in the SAARC region.

As in the preceding years, more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50, with the global average score at 43. The data revealed that majority of the countries are not successful in effectively tackling corruption though there are some progresses made.

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