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Biggest problem in the country today is corruption: Opposition

Corruption was one of the biggest problems the country faced in the last five years, the opposition said at its last press conference on July 31 in Thimphu.

Citing the findings of the study conducted by Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) on rampant corruption in the road sector, former opposition MP Dorji Wangdi said corruption was prevalent in other sectors too.

“The biggest problem in the country today is the high rate of corruption. We base this on study conducted by ACC and we also hear from other sources,” he said.

Public road construction research report by ACC found higher prevalence of corruption in the form of favoritism and abuse of functions, existence of bribery, abuse of privileged information and bid rigging.

Wrongdoings and corruption in public road construction between 2010 – 2015 had a financial implication of Nu 467.67 million (M). This was an average loss of Nu 77.95M annually, according to the annual ACC report. The study found corruption as one of the causes for the poor quality of roads.

Dorji Wangdi claimed allegations of corruptions in other sectors like in construction of government schools, and hospitals among others.

“ACC also reported prevalence of high favoritism and nepotism, especially in the public service, recruitment and selection both in civil service, corporations and private sector. The government has set a bad precedence,” he said.

The former MP also highlighted breach of government’s tendering process and procurement rules and regulations in purchase of government vehicles and boleros.

“The issues of development of PM’s residence are shining examples of corruption. The full cost invested to develop PM’s residence is yet to be ascertained. The Nu 3M pertains only to wall, water and lightings. The approach road and other developments was not accounted,” Dorji Wangdi said.

Supply of items to farm shops, school supplies to central schools and misuse of supplementary budget approved by the parliament to solve unemployment issues by labour ministry were other issues the opposition cited on corruption prevalence.

Following the ACC’s report on corruption prevalence in road sector, the Works and Human Settlement minster Dorji Choden during a meet the press session on December 27 had said that corruption in public road construction if revealed and established were taken to task, but not when it was based on perceived corruption.

The minister told the press that the annual ACC report on public road construction was a research study that tried to find potential risks and perception of the people.

Lyonpo had said that the report had also looked into number of complaints it had received. “A majority of complaints were from construction sector because it involved lot of money,” she said. “We make conclusions based on perception and doubts but we need to clarify that this research is a desk study.”

Following the opposition’s accusation on alleged misuse of public resources, the Prime Minister had asked ACC to investigate if there was possible cases of corruption in building the compound wall and security houses at his residence.

Lyonchhen had said that the compound wall and water supply infrastructures was built at the insistence of the Royal Bhutan Police on the grounds of security. He said that the Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) observation was not a part of main findings but came as an observation that are recommendatory in nature and thus annexed.

“They (RAA) didn’t call it misuse of public fund or corruption. I voluntarily returned the money,” he said.

Nima

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