A Second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between Anti-Corruption commission (ACC) and Bhutan Transparency Initiative (BTI) to further strengthen and promote cooperation to prevent corruption in the country.
Recognizing the importance of alliance and cooperation, the first MoU was signed in April 2015. The MoU was signed also to enhance prevention and education aspects of anti-corruption function through participatory approach of BTI and increases the level and reach of awareness program on ACC through BTI.
ACC Chairperson, Kinley Yangzom, said that among the nine MoUs signed with CSOs since 2011, the MoU with BTI has been most effective. “BTI in collaboration with ACC, DLG and RIM to roll out social accountability initiative in gewogs, and BTI in collaboration with the Transparency International conducted an assessment of ACC’s performance in 2015,” she added.
Moreover, she shared that, BTI’s research report on National Corruption Barometer Survey 2016 has been a useful resource for ACC in assessing citizens’ perception of corruption, and also an important reference in developing relevant interventions to prevent or minimize corruption in the 12th FYP.
The areas of cooperation under the MoU includes conducting surveys to assess perception on corruption in the country, conducting awareness on integrity and anti-corruption measures and promote citizens’ engagement and to prevent corruption by strengthening internal control mechanism in BTI.
Further, she said, “BTI and ACC will adopt technical and financial arrangement for specific areas of collaboration.”
Meanwhile, the Executive Director of BTI, Pema Lhamo, said that they have demonstrated their commitment in the past and although constrained by major financial and HR, BTI has made some significant advances in the area of governance research and evidence based advocacy.
She said, “This MoU has articulated five broad areas of collaboration which includes diagnostic studies for informed decision, TA support from ACC, advocacy and general awareness programs, strengthen internal controlled mechanism and building partnership platforms for CSOs.”
BTI has piloted legal advice and advocacy programs in two dzongkhags (Thimphu and Sarpang) through which they have also forwarded some citizen complaints to the ACC. They are hoping that this program could contribute in the establishment of an ombudsman by the parliamentarian in future.
“We also have initiated integrity program with the CSOs. Social accountability has been our flagship program, and currently, we are running two pilots in Phangkhar, Zhemgang and Gelephu Thromde under their program amplifying the voice of rural women for inclusive governance,” she added.
It is very difficult to mobilize funds from within the country and BTI is dependent largely on external donor funds, she said, adding that while the spirit is there, they are handicapped with the resources.
She said they have received support from ACC, particularly with regard to information access and financial support from some advocacy programs in line with the first MoU. “We look towards the ACC for support in capacity building of our young staff and guidance and in fund mobilizing,” Pema Lhamo said.