Corruption is an enemy of the development, progress and peace of the country. It may be creeping in every layer of institutions - be it in the public or private spheres of the society. Abuse of authority, financial misappropriation, bribery and poor public procurement practices can be described as corruption or irregularity but it may have wider tentacles and may be prevalent in subtle forms. Laxity in work, under performance, evading taxes, exploiting people and submission of fake documents can also be put in the category of corruption. The malpractice happens by taking advantage of legal loopholes and strong monitoring mechanism in government and private offices. Holding everyone accountable to his/her duty and responsibility is the first step to control graft. Corrupt actions and irregularities come to light when they are exposed through fair and thorough investigation.
The state has made arrangement of constitutional, legal and administrative bodies to probe and take action against corrupt practices existing in different sectors. But corruption can be unearthed and corrupt individuals penalised only when there is an effective state apparatus in place to carry out regular auditing, surprise inspections, work progress evaluation, covert intelligence gathering, hearing of anonymous complaints and surveillance of lavish life of people in public offices. Corruption poses big challenge to good governance, without which a democratic system cannot function properly. It undermines the legitimacy of the government and weakens the public’s trust in democracy. Following transparency at every level of government functioning is a crucial component of good governance that helps to check corruption.
The annual report of the Commission for the Investigation and Abuse of Authority (CIAA), 2020/21 shows how corruption is persistently continuing in the public sector. The anti-corruption watchdog reveals a worrisome picture of malpractices and irregularities in public offices. According to the report submitted to President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Monday, most of the cases of irregularities have been persistently occurring in the sectors of federal affairs, education and land administration. One annual report after another points to this continuing trend, calling for aggressive remedial steps so that corrupt practices can be nipped in the bud. An overwhelming number of complaints are filed to the CIAA which are naturally cumbersome to handle but the commission should better equip itself and build capacity to hear those complaints and address them. No doubt, this is a daunting task.
According to the CIAA report, the commission received a total of 22,625 corruption complaints in fiscal year 2020/21, including 8,200 transferred from previous year. Of these complaints, 64.32 per cent were settled, while the remaining ones have been put on hold after preliminary investigation. The CIAA received the highest number of complaints related to federal affairs (30.72 per cent), followed by education (15.61) and land administration (9.09). This shows that corruption continues to plague the local governments and poses a serious challenge to fairness in service delivery to the citizens. It is relevant to do a follow-up of the complaints and find out if genuine cases of irregularities were behind those complaints. Hearing and finalising corruption cases in prompt manner is also necessary. The government should adopt a zero-tolerance policy against corruption by bolstering institutional and legal capacity to fight the moral malady.