Nepal’s position in corruption index remains unchangedNepal ranks 117th among 180 countries and territories in the latest Corruption Perception Index. The country is behind Bhutan, India and Sri Lanka in South Asia.
Nepal’s position on the latest Corruption Perception Index remained unchanged at 117th out of 180 countries and territories from 2020 as people’s perception about prevalence in corruption continued to remain high.
Nepal’s score also remained unchanged at 33 in both years, according to Corruption Perception Index 2021, an annual flagship publication of the Transparency International, a global anti-corruption group based in Berlin, on Tuesday.
The Transparency International uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is most corrupt and 100 is least corrupt. A score below 50 is considered as having a relatively higher level of corruption in a country, according to the anti-corruption advocacy body.
“Nepal’s status in CPI shows that the country has been ranked among the countries where corruption is widespread,” Transparency International Nepal said in statement. “Same score of Nepal last and this year suggests that there has not been any progress in controlling corruption.”
Even in South Asia, Nepal has been ranked below Bhutan (25th), Maldives (85th), India (85th) and Sri Lanka (102th). Pakistan (140th), Bangladesh (147) and Afghanistan (174) are the only countries behind Nepal.
In fact, Nepal’s position had improved significantly in 2019 as the country climbed 11 spots to 113th from 124th in 2018. But the country failed to gain momentum in the perceived level of public sector corruption in the last two years.
The country’s ranking continued to remain low as it plunged into a political crisis in 2021 amid dissolution of the House of Representatives twice and the politicians faced charges of policy corruption to benefit certain interest groups.
Questions about constitutionality of new appointments in the leadership of the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority were raised while the anti graft body was stripped of authority to conduct sting operations by the Supreme Court.
The country's judicial system also plunged into a crisis with fellow Supreme Court judges and lawyers resorting to protest demanding resignation of Chief Justice Cholendra Sumsher Rana over his alleged role in power sharing in the new government formation in July.
Nepal’s ranking was made based on surveys on different fields conducted by six institutions–the World Bank, World Economic Forum, Global Insight, Bertelsmann Foundation, World Justice Project and Varieties of Democracy Project (VDEM).
According to the report, the World Economic Forum dropped Nepal’s score sharply by six points to 34 in 2021 from 40 in the previous year. The Forum had conducted surveys about corruption perception in the areas of export and import, public service, tax payment, (public) contracts and judicial decisions, according to the statement of Transparency International Nepal.
Padmini Pradhananga, president of Transparency International Nepal, said that reduced scores in these areas suggest that public service delivery has remained poor and the government has not been taking action against those responsible for poor results in public construction.
“Questions have also been raised about mobilisation of the users’ groups in public construction,” Pradhananga said. “At a time when questions are being raised about the involvement of users’ group in public construction, the government decided to allow cooperatives formed by workers to participate in competitive bidding to handle public construction worth upto Rs 100 million, which is itself risky policy decision that can promote corruption.”
“Chief Justice was embroiled in controversy, contributing to low scores in the area from the World Economic Forum,” she said.
In December last year, lawyers and agitators demanding the resignation of Chief Justice Cholendra Rana submitted a memorandum at the Money Laundering and Investigation Department to investigate the assets of the chief justice and his family members.
The World Justice Project, which is another institution responsible for conducting surveys on whether representatives of the government, judiciary, parliament and the security agencies abuse their authority for personal gains, gave a score of 32 each to Nepal in the last two years.
Gauri Bahadur Karki, former chairperson of the Special Court, said that the executive, legislative and judiciary have also failed in their responsibilities to control corruption in the country.
“The country’s executive head gives lip service to control corruption while certain tax exemptions on the import of certain goods raised questions about policy corruption,” said Karki.
Questions were raised about customs duty exemption on sponge iron amid claims that the move was taken in favour of certain business groups. Likewise, an increase in customs duty on motorcycles also invited controversy.
According to Karki, besides the government’s failure to act on controlling corruption, the anti-graft body also avoids investigating big corruption cases as leadership is appointed based on political power sharing.
He fears more corruption will take place this year as elections are scheduled for 2022 and the parties and their leaders need more money for the elections.
“Parties and leaders are likely to see funds from interest groups for the elections promising policy preferences for the benefit of the said groups,” he said.