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Concluding its deliberation on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) report 2016, the National Assembly yesterday resolved to ask the Office of Attorney General (OAG) to complete restitution of pending cases as soon as possible.

Assembly asks OAG to complete corruption restitution

From 17 individuals

Concluding its deliberation on the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) report 2016, the National Assembly yesterday resolved to ask the Office of Attorney General (OAG) to complete restitution of pending cases as soon as possible.

About Nu 110 million is yet to be recovered from 17 individuals who were convicted in court for corruption between 2009 and 2016, according to the ACC report.

To implement this resolution, the National Assembly recommended that the Ministry of Finance provide additional budgetary support and the Royal Civil Service Commission, necessary human resources.

The good governance committee had proposed a six-month time frame to the OAG to complete the job. However, some members said that to prescribe a deadline would not be practical.

Finance Minister Namgay Dorji said, “It would be impossible for OAG to complete restitution of overdue cases within a prescribed time frame.” “We should ask OAG to complete the job as soon as possible,” he added.

The house also resolved for the ACC, OAG and Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) to put in place a system to facilitate regular meetings between the three agencies to coordinate their work in the fight against corruption. Some members suggested that the agencies should meet once a month. However, the house resolved that it was not possible for the agencies to meet every month.

Meanwhile, the ACC report states that initiatives have been taken to establish an endowment fund for the social security of ACC employees. Implementation of the proposal is expected to be completed this year.

According to the ACC, the endowment fund proposal will seek to address the social security needs of ACC staff to enable them to live in dignity and without having to depend on the goodwill of others after a lifetime of dedicated service in the fight against corruption.

“The scheme will also address the ability of ACC to attract and retain qualified and experienced professionals which is a challenge right now,” the report states. “ACC endowment fund will be a key priority of the commission.”

ACC has also recommended the establishment of an office of ombudsman to protect the public against violation of rights, abuse of powers, unfair decisions and maladministration.

The report states that the closest relevant system today is ACC and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre. “However, the latter two are by nature more criminal-oriented and adversarial in scope and intent, as opposed to the straight-forward grievances orientation of an ombudsman’s mandate, which may often not fall under the formal legal domain nor require criminal-scale litigation.”

The primary advantage of an ombudsman is that it will examine complaints from outside the offending state institution, and help avoid conflicts of interest inherent in self-regulation. This may apply specifically to government officials as well as members of the judiciary.

An ombudsman can serve as an efficient first step in a national anti-corruption strategy, by filtering issues based on their legal and criminal significance.

MB Subba

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