Bhutan is one of the least corrupt countries in south East Asia according to the latest Transparency International (TI) 2009 reports. The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) showed that Bhutan had scored 5.0 out of 10. The rating was done for 180 nations based on perceived levels of corruption in the public sector.
The CPI scores countries on a scale of zero to 10, with zero indicating high levels of corruption and 10, low levels. That ranking is based on data from country experts and business leaders at 10 independent institutions, including the World Bank, Economist Intelligence Unit and World Economic Forum.
However, according to the Commissioner of Anti Corruption Commission (ACC), Kezang Jamtsho it is not something we should laud ourselves about. “Our corruption rating is becoming worse by the year. Corruption is one of the biggest emerging challenges for Bhutan in general and for ACC in particular,” he said.
“Over the past one year ACC had received and dealt with about thrice the number of corruption cases than it has five years ago. So to say that we are one of the least corrupt countries in South East Asia is debatable,” said one of officers of ACC.
The commissioner said that even going by the TI reports, “Bhutan stood at 26th position in 2006 and barely three years after we have slumped down to 49th position. This in itself is an indication that says it all.”
According to TI 2009 report Bhutan had 5.2 as its CPI score in 2008 and a year after it dropped to 5, however, the position remained constant at 49th.
Kinga Tashi, a civil servant is of the opinion that Bhutan indeed is one of the least corrupt countries in South East Asia. “We have a good government. Bhutanese generally are honest people. And we have strong ACC to monitor corruption in the country. Every one hesitates to come under ACC scanner,” he said.
Pema Tshering, another civil servant disagrees. “I refute that we are one of the least corrupt countries in south East Asia. Well, it may be true some decades ago, but now it is a different story all together. With time the influence of globalization is apparent. How do you suppose a civil servant is able to afford posh cars like Prado and Land Cruiser in about less than a decade’s time in office?” he quips.
Samten Wangchuk a businessman said that corruption in Bhutan if not curbed from the offset is likely to become endemic with time. “There are so many instances of unreported corruption practices in our society-nepotism for an instance,” he said.
“Corruption is rampantly on the rise. Most likely, it is just the perception of the person on the street. I don't know how they accounted for various cultural differences. TI report is a typical screwed up Westerner's immature perception of the world,” said Lhendup Dorji a student of Economy.
A feature of 2009 CPI was that the vast majority of the 180 countries included in the index had scored below five.
Transparency International has found that a strong correlation between corruption and poverty continues to exist, jeopardizing the global fight against poverty and threatening to derail the UN Millennium Development Goals.
Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark, and New Zealand are perceived to be the world's least corrupt countries with scores above 9 out of 10. And with scores below 2 are Somalia, Iraq, Haiti, and Myanmar and seen to be the most corrupt in the world.
Countries that have significantly improved their rating since the 2007 index were Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga, and Turkey. Some of the countries that have a significantly worse rating since 2007 include Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway, and the United Kingdom.