Your search keywords:

Corrupt country

Corrupt country

That corruption is increasing in Nepal hardly needs confirmation. As we go to press, Dr Govinda KC is on his 16th fast-unto-death, as a part of his campaign against the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians who have deprived mil­lions of Nepalis of affordable and reliable healthcare. Just this past week, the Center for Investigative Journal­ism, Nepal published the names of 55 Nepali nationals who have amassed ill-gotten wealth in tax havens, and described how this money is being laundered back into the country. The national flag-carrier is under par­liamentary investigation for iffy transactions related to its purchase of two Airbus aircraft.

And now, the Transparency International, the global anti-graft watchdog, has released the 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI). Nepal has slipped two places from last year, to 124th, well below neighboring India (78th), and even troubled Pakistan (117th). The CPI says Nepal’s political parties and bureaucracy are the most corrupt entities in the country. In other words, the communist government with a two-thirds majority at the center is contributing to the institutionalization of corruption in high places. Rather than using its vast powers to clamp down on corruption, it is rewarding unscrupulous contractors and fixers.

One often gets to hear about how the whole govern­ment machinery operates under the ‘system’. While earlier individual government officials asked for small kickbacks for ‘pushing the file forward’, nowadays one or two officials pocket lump sums which are later dis­tributed down the line. Corruption now is thus less visi­ble but more prevalent. Even foreigners are not spared, as our story this week on the ordeal of the first foreign couple to register their marriage in Nepal illustrates.

For Nepal to make a significant dent on this bur­geoning edifice of corruption, it is vital that its chief anti-corruption bodies like the CIAA and the National Vigilance Center (NVC) get, first, the right manpower, and second, the autonomy to carry out their respon­sibilities freely and fearlessly. Yet the intent of the Oli government seems to be on cowing these institutions to do the government’s bidding, as putting the NVC under the Prime Minister’s Office suggests. The cul­ture of ‘political consensus’ that flourished following the 2006 political change has also been detrimental to the health of our public bodies. Even as the ruling and opposition parties appear bitterly divided over some issues, they are united in the shared knowledge that each has closets full of skeletons.