Public perception of corruption increased in past year as Nepal performs worst among 17 countries surveyedSurvey shows people associated with the prime minister are most corrupt.
People’s perception of the state of corruption in Nepal is the worst among the 17 countries and territories surveyed by the Transparency International, a global anti-corruption advocacy group.
Fifty-eight percent of the respondents said they believed corruption increased in Nepal in the past year, to the highest level among the countries surveyed, according to the Global Corruption Barometer-Asia, released by the anti-corruption advocacy group on Tuesday.
After Nepal, Thailand (55 percent), Maldives (53 percent), Sri Lanka (52 percent) and Indonesia (49 percent) took top positions in terms of people’s perception of whether corruption grew in the respective countries.
They are followed by India, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar, Mongolia, the Philippines, China, South Korea and Cambodia. The survey was conducted among nearly 20,000 people in 17 countries.
As many as 23 percent of the Nepalis responded that corruption remained at its level and only 18 percent said it has decreased, with one percent saying they didn’t know.
The institutions of the president or prime minister made their worst impressions on the people as most corruption institutions.
Fifty percent of the people surveyed termed the most or all people associated with the institution of president or prime minister as the most corrupt, followed by members of parliament.
As many as 43 percent of people viewed the members of parliament as corrupt. Government officials, local government officials and police ranked among the top five in terms of people’s perception of corrupt institutions.
“The survey basically shows that general people have a very negative impression about the people connected with the prime minister,” said Khem Raj Regmi, Nepal chapter president of the Transparency International.
“In the report, the institutions of president and prime minister have been clubbed together because of different governance systems in 17 countries. It talked about the institution of the prime minister in the case of Nepal which is the executive branch of the state.”
According to the report, people perceive corruption at all levels of government in Nepal. “Unfortunately, there are many examples where corruption pervades daily life, including a high-profile land grab case involving senior public officials and the illegal transfer of state property.”
The global anti-corruption advocacy group said though Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has repeatedly vowed to control corruption, his administration has done little to combat it.
“On the contrary, Oli has defended Cabinet colleagues who have been named in such scandals, while critics raise concerns that the independent anti-corruption agency has not pursued any grand corruption cases,” it said further.
A number of corruption scandals took place in the country in the last one year. One notable scandal involves ex-minister for communication and information technology Gokul Baskota and Health Minister Bhanu Bhakta Dhakal.
Baskota was caught on tape negotiating Rs700 million with a local agent of an international firm attempting to set up a security printing press in Nepal. He was minister for communication and information technology then. After the tape was leaked, he resigned in February. According to a report by Kantipur, the Post’s sister paper, the commission is preparing to exonerate Baskota, a close confidante of Oli.
Minister Dhakal also came into spotlight after the Health Ministry decided to award a contract of supplying medical gears to combat Covid-19 pandemic to the controversial Omni Business Corporate International.
After the medical goods supplied by the companies in the first instalment were found to be much more expensive than the price quoted by many other suppliers, the government was forced to terminate the contract with the company on April 1.
According to the report, growing public frustrations with the government spurred the “Enough is Enough” campaign, Covid-19 street protests and support for Dr Govinda KC’s medical sector reform agenda. “To control increasing corruption, a truly committed political leadership and a strong people’s movement are essential,” the report says.
However, according to the survey, 62 percent Nepali respondents said that the government had been doing well in controlling corruption with 37 percent saying it was doing bad.
According to the report, 84 percent Nepalis consider corruption in the government as a big problem. As many as 12 percent Nepalis paid bribes to get the government services in the last 12 months.
Up to 29 percent of the Nepalis surveyed said they used their personal connections to get their works done. As many as 13 percent respondents were offered bribes in exchange for votes.
Even the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority is facing growing criticism for its failure to probe large corruption cases. Approval rating of the agency is among the highest among the countries surveyed.
Some 84 percent of the Nepalis surveyed said the watchdog had been doing well in its effort to control corruption. “Even though the commission has made little effort to control corruption from the political level, its effort to control corruption at administrative level might have impressed the people surveyed,” said Regmi.