NA recommends Ombudsman’s office within ACC

The National Assembly (NA) has supported the establishment of an Ombudsman’s office within the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), to screen complaints and ease the administrative burden on the commission so that it can concentrate on its core mandate.

The need for an Ombudsman’s Office was articulated by the ACC in 2016. The objective of the Office is to investigate complaints and attempt to resolve them, usually through recommendations (binding or not) or mediation. It also aims to identify systematic issues leading to poor service or breaches of people’s rights.

Reporting to the National Assembly on the feasibility of such an office, the chairperson of the Good Governance Committee (GGC) said such an office would enable the Anti-Corruption office to concentrate on its core mandate and ease the administrative burden of respective administrative agencies.

The Nyishong Sephu MP, Kuenga, said the GGC and the ACC met and discussed the issue at great length. “A great deal of time and effort of ACC is consumed by complaints of administrative nature, leaving little time for it to deal with serious corruption cases,” he said.

He said the ACC, to manage the overwhelming number of cases, had to establish a screening process and reduce the number of actual investigation cases. “Those not warranting investigation are referred to the respective administrative agencies for necessary actions at the end,” he said. “Such referrals are, however, subject to serious ‘conflict of interest’ situations as the cases are sent to the very agencies against which complaints are made in the first place, while also burdening the agencies.”

Economic affairs minister Lekey Dorji said instituting additional man power and budgeting to support ACC is important for the country. “I agree with establishment of Ombudsman’s office because there are lots of complaints of administrative nature,” he said.

Drametse Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi agreed with the establishment of Ombudsman’s office. He said if the ACC is given additional manpower to deal with the corruption cases it need not have to establish new office separately. “ACC have the right to establish a small distinct unit (Ombudsman’ office) within the ACC office,” he said.

Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi said that conflict would arise between ACC and Ombudsman’s office if the office is set up separately. “I suggest having a small distinct unit within the ACC,” he said.

As recommended by the Committee the House decided that a unit under the ACC be instituted with provision of additional manpower from RCSC and budgetary support from the government and, after having gained enough experience, the unit could be separated from ACC as an independent office in future.

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