Bhutan has moved to the 25th place in the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2018, a notch up from the 26th place in the previous year.
The country has climbed up the CPI ladder despite the TI stating that the Asia Pacific region is stagnating in the fight against corruption. The Berlin-based non-governmental anti-corruption watchdog published the CPI 2018 on its website yesterday.
Bhutan scored 68 points in comparison with the global average of 43 points. More than two-thirds of the countries scored below 50.
The 2018 CPI states the report is based on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). Bhutan shares the position with Barbados, an island country in the Caribbean.
The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has expressed its happiness over the improvement in the ranking. “We are happy that Bhutan continues to progress in the TI-CPI rank and score. The credit goes to His Majesty and Drugyal Zhipa, our anti-corruption champions and to all stakeholders for their concerted effort in preventing and fighting corruption and raising the standard of integrity,” ACC Chairperson Kinley Yangzom said.
A press release from TI states that corruption and the health of democracies are linked. The report states that the well-functioning democratic systems of New Zealand (2nd) and Australia (13th) contributed to their top scores.
It adds that low performing countries on the CPI share undemocratic commonalities that hinder any long-term progress in anti-corruption. These, the anti-corruption watchdog states, include weak democratic institutions, laws, regulations and enforcement mechanisms.
TI’s Regional Coordinator for South Asia, Ilham Mohammed, in an email interview told Kuensel said that although a score change of one place was not necessarily a statistically significant move, Bhutan ranks considerably higher than any of its neighboring South Asian countries.
“Underlying this strong performance is a clear, organised and centralised national integrity system with the Bhutanese anti-corruption agency (ACC) at its apex. Bhutan prioritised setting up a solid anti-corruption infrastructure early in its democratisation process,” the regional coordinator said.
However, Ilham Mohammed added there remains work to be done in terms of strengthening the ongoing democratisation and decentralisation processes. The regional coordinator called for awareness and action around less blatant and nuanced forms of corruption such as conflict of interest, nepotism and favoritism.
In the SAARC region, Bhutan occupies the top spot, followed by India at a distant 78th spot. Sri Lanka follows India (89), Pakistan (117), the Maldives (124), Nepal (124), Bangladesh (149) and Afghanistan (172).
Denmark is ranked highest with 88 points followed by New Zealand with 87 points. Somalia maintained its ranking at the bottom of the chart.
In the 12th Plan, the government aims to increase the overall score in CPI to 69 points out of 100. The ACC, the 12th Plan states, will strengthen good governance and contribute towards building a corruption free society.
This will be done through promotion of ethical leadership, instilling integrity at the individual level and strengthening systems and institutions through collaboration among all actors.
TI has made four major recommendations to make real progress against corruption and strengthen democracy, the first being the need to strengthen the institutions responsible for maintaining checks and balances over political power.
It has also called on countries to close the implementation gap between anti-corruption legislation, practice and enforcement. The government, TI states, should support civil society organisations which enhances political engagement and public oversight over government spending, particularly at the local level.
The TI also calls on countries to support a free and independent media, and ensure the safety of journalists and their ability to work without intimidation or harassment.