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Pervasive corruption threatens governance goals

Pervasive corruption threatens governance goals

Zero tolerance for corruption and good governance have been the buzzwords in public administration in Nepal in recent years. However, the reality paints a different picture as corruption continues to proliferate at an alarming rate.

Although Nepal’s standing has marginally improved in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, reaching a score of 35 this year, corruption remains a significant challenge for the country. Since Transparency International identifies a score below 50 as indicative of a high risk of corruption, there is a pressing need for Nepal to redouble its efforts in combating corruption and promoting good governance.

Prem Kumar Rai, the Chief Commissioner of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), said that the desired success in controlling corruption cannot be achieved unless politicians, employees, and citizens across all three tiers of government, exhibit a sense of responsibility towards good governance.

According to the CIAA’s annual report, different forms of corruption are rampant in Nepal. Here are some of them:

Infrastructure development

Following the adoption of federalism, corruption has thrived in development and construction projects implemented by all levels of government. Instances of misusing state resources during budget allocation, grants distribution, and service delivery have surged. The CIAA has received a significant number of complaints over the past five years related to bribery, illicit gains, and acquisition of illegal assets.


The trend of making unnecessary purchases by public offices is on the rise. Construction companies are colluding with government officials to stifle competition in public procurement and construction projects. Direct procurement without competitive bidding has become increasingly common, Such cases are particularly evident during times of disasters. Allocation of budgets without proper justification and planning, as well as procurement without adherence to standards, are growing challenges in combating corruption.


Middlemen have infiltrated public offices and are obstructing service delivery of these offices. As a result, the general public is forced to pay a fee for services they are supposed to get free of cost.


Corruption is rampant in employee appointments. Some public institutions have become like recruitment centers for cadres of ruling parties. Staffers are being promoted without considering merit and criteria. Such activities have also led to misuse of government resources such as vehicles and fuel.


Land-related irregularities are widespread across the country. Government land and forest land being leased for commercial purposes at minimal rates to serve the interests of certain individuals and groups. Encroachment on public, Guthi, and forest lands are going unabated. Recent land scams related to Lalita Niwas, Bansbari Leather factory and Nepal Trust shows this has become a chronic issue.

Political appointments

The practice of appointing offenders to various positions in public offices perpetuates corruption. Instances of appointees with foreign residency permits and those listed as absconding criminals shows the government is taking good governance very lightly. Political affiliations often outweigh qualifications and experience in appointments in all three tiers of governments. 

Revenue leakage

Incidents of revenue leakage are on the rise. As many as 49 such cases were reported to the CIAA in 2022/23 alone. Unjustified exemptions in customs duty and taxes as well as activities such as revenue evasion through under-invoicing, are on the rise. Authorities responsible for curbing such activities have failed in their duties, according to CIAA.

Policy corruption

Policy corruption has emerged as a significant issue in recent years. Decisions that fall under the purview of ministries and departments are being routed through the cabinet to evade scrutiny by anti-corruption agencies. The CIAA has long been calling for all three tiers of government to maintain transparency in their decision making process.

The CIAA is formulating an institutional strategic plan to address the challenges identified during its fourth strategic plan review. It has provided 22 recommendations to public offices to enhance transparency, competition, and quality in public procurement, among others.