Bhutan Ranks 25th In Corruption Perception Index Out Of 180 Countries
Bhutan moved up a notch up from its 26th place in 2017, with a score of 68 points.
By MB Subba | Kuensel
Bhutan has moved to the 25th place in the Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Perception Index (CPI) for 2018, a notch up from its 26th place in the previous year.
The country has climbed up the CPI ladder despite the Transparency International 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 as against the global average of 43 points. More than two-thirds of the countries which have been assessed worldwide, scored below 50.
The 2018 CPI states the report is based on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure the 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 the Drugyal Zhipa, our anti-corruption champions and to all stakeholders for their concerted effort in preventing and fighting corruption and raising the standards of integrity,” ACC Chairperson, Kinley Yangzom said.
The connection between corruption and the health of democracies
A press release from the Transparency International states that corruption and the health of democracies are linked. The report also 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 factors, the anti-corruption watchdog states, include weak democratic institutions, laws, regulations and enforcement mechanisms.
The TI’s Regional Coordinator for South Asia, Ilham Mohammed said that although a score change of one place was not necessarily a statistically significant move, Bhutan still ranks considerably higher than any of its neighbouring 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 that there remains work to be done in terms of strengthening the ongoing democratisation and decentralisation processes.
The regional coordinator called for more awareness and action around less blatant and nuanced forms of corruption such as conflict of interest, nepotism and favouritism.
How does Bhutan fare in the SAARC region?
In the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region, Bhutan occupies the top spot, followed by India at a distant 78th. Sri Lanka follows India (89), Pakistan (117), the Maldives (124), Nepal (124), Bangladesh (149) and Afghanistan (172).
By contrast, 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 of Bhutan’s 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 the promotion of ethical leadership, instilling integrity at the individual level and strengthening systems and institutions through collaboration among all actors.
Recommendations made by Transparency International to fight corruption
Transparency International has made four major recommendations for countries 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 to ensure the safety of journalists and their ability to work without intimidation or harassment.
This article first appeared in kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.