In an effort to reinforce ‘Developing Accountable, Moral and Transparent Systems and Individual’ (DAMTSI) as the core Bhutanese value, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering launched the National Integrity and Anti-Corruption Strategy (NIACS) 2019-2023.
An official from ACC said that this strategy is an outcome of progressive consultation at various stages with more than 1,190 representatives from diverse agencies, such as the Parliament, Judiciary, Constitutional Bodies, Ministries, and Autonomous Agencies, Corporations, the Media, Civil Societies and youth groups.
Fighting corruption in Bhutan is more of an anticipatory action than a response to crisis, the official added. As Bhutan graduates to lower middle-income country by 2023, it is imperative that the corruption be controlled.
“The resilience of the governance systems must be strengthened to withstand any contemporary corruption vulnerabilities. In order to ensure inclusive, equitable and sustainable socio-economic and political development, values and principles of integrity must be imbedded as a quintessential attribute of good governance,” the official added.
Towards this, the NIACS is an antidote to prevent corruption from taking its toll. NIACS is a national operative framework and closely aligns with the 12th Five Year Plan (FYP) to guide effective realization of the 12th National Key Result Area Corruption Reduced.
With the theme DAMTSI, the NIACS mainly aims to make corruption prevention and enhancement of good governance as the inherent development imperative. Transparent, accountable and integrity culture strengthened, Integrity consciousness enhanced and Credibility and effectiveness of law enforcement and regulatory agencies enhanced are the three key strategic objectives emphasizes on institutionalizing anti-corruption and integrity measures in all the agencies, an official added.
All the agencies are expected to incorporate the mandatory indicators on corruption reduction in their respective Annual Performance Agreement and Target.
“Why isn’t corruption zero in our country? Probably it takes us back to how we think and how we function. Of late, there is more concern from the highest authority, that the way we govern may not be the right way. We have been focusing a lot on political policies and on economic policies. Probably the third arm is being missed somewhere in the social policy,” Lyonchhen said.
The current government will have lots of focus on this, weather it is mandated as a government or not, Lyonchhen said he will take in as his personal interest and that he would not tolerate corruption.
For its successful implementation of the NIACS, for the first time in the history of Bhutan’s fight against corruption, a national level committee called ‘National Integrity Committee’ (NIC) has been formed. The NIC shall be headed by the Prime Minister and meet annually to monitor the progress of the NIACS.
Further, the Integrity Committee (IC) consisting of representatives from the Gross National Happiness Commission Secretariat (GNHCS), Government Performance Management Division (GPMD) of the Cabinet Secretariat and ACC will support the NIC.
The heads of the agencies play critical role, hereafter, to operationalize the strategic objectives into concrete actions. The official said, “The political will of the leaders is critical to empower institutions and individuals to promote good governance – through enhancing transparent, efficient and accountable systems and active individual participation to uphold the constitutional responsibility.”
Fighting corruption is everyone’s responsibility; collective effort is what is needed. Towards this, the NIACS is the way forward in jointly fulfilling the responsibility of combating corruption, the official added.