The nation is in the threshold of political transformation. With the transformation of the political mindset by curbing main stream political agenda, the nation has to move forward to address and resolve some other determinants of enduring democratic process and good governance. The vital (yet another agenda for pro-people and sustainable democratic practices), is to bring transparent and accountable governance by eliminating the culture of corruption.
The existing system of governance requires radical improvement and changes including the introducing of anticorruption, integrity and ethics.
The corruption and loss of governance ethics has similar impact on national development, like political abrasion. Changes to existing culture, practices and mindset of the bureaucracy and governance system are inevitable in the current national circumstances for the wellbeing of
the country and countrymen and for confronting corruption.
The promising practices concerning effective administrative measures against corruption, integrity violations and organized crime are the immediate requirements of the nation during the transition phase.
Though Nepal has a history of series of anticorruption practices in different forms and dimensions, none of them has left a remarkable footnote of achievements. All practices and efforts went futile - either the efforts or practices were not applicable as per the local circumstances (and national socio-political structure), or practices were not strong enough to shake the deeply engrained culture of corruption.
Many of the practices and promises were cheap agendas of previous governments to lengthen their tenure; many of them were not accepted by the public too.
Now, strong commitments and practices are required to sustain the democratic culture and make strong base of efficient bureaucracy in Nepal.The government needs to formulate key corruption fighting measures, by which the corruption of culture can be "cleaned up."
Tools for Anticorruption Practices and Integrity Measures
Corruption has become a pivotal obstacle for economic development. Prevention of corruption tendency in government is a key tool to confrontthe existing culture of corruption. Prevention of corrupt attitudes through successful anti-corruption training for civil servants and government practitioners will make positive effects on governance. The government has to focus on administrative ethics and revise the theory and practices of anticorruption measures that are currently in practice. Prevention mechanisms through training, awareness and legal prosecution are instrumental for combating corruption in the Nepalese context.
B. Public procurement
The government has to manage and execute effective policies with regard to the public procurement. Procurement management in the public sector with visibility and accountability allocates responsibility to the employees and limits the likelihood of corruption during the process. Policies that encompass best practices that prevent joint conspiracies by interested parties during tender procedures (and good practices that prevent organized crime from intervening in public procurement activities), will enable the state to prevent the government revenue from being misused. A high portion of corruption falls in hard-to-find and non transparent procurement activities in government sector.
The government has to implement guaranteed and effective codes of conduct for public officials. These codes of conduct should be based on performance and good working behaviour, self assessments and organizational risk analyses of vulnerable positions. How public organizations deal with integrity violations has to be properly justified. Do they investigate internally or do they report to the public prosecutor or the respective authority in set time frames? And are all activities in accordance with the state directives and policies? Is there a whistle blower regulation in place and how are lower tiers of government, agencies etc. involved? Nepal lacks in integrity measures as corruption is systematic and the government has failed to reform its culture.
D. Transparency and ethics
The new trend in the fight against corruption places emphasis not only on efficiency but also on transparency and accountability of the public sector. The lack of transparency inherent to this sector is even intensified by principles such as official secrecy. In places where citizens are hindered by red tape, intermediaries use this niche and charge citizens for their real or supposed influence on the wheels of bureaucracy. To avoid the conflict of interest (between the public and public officials), the public administration has to become more transparent even to its own administrative bodies.
The conditions of accessing information alone often exerts a very regulative influence. Regulatory work ethics plus the code of business ethics enforcement, accelerate more visible administration. Helping to stop ethics violations (and remove legal incompatibilities in bureaucracy) is a must. The violation of the government's code of conduct and ethics can jeopardize the relationship with stake holders. Therefore anti-ethics performance like request for illegal commission, theft, fraudulent business practice, harassment issues and workers compensation fraud issues are in focus in ethics preservation.
E. Anti-corruption policies
Finally, the anticorruption policies in current practices play a detrimental role in national anticorruption efforts. How the nation has treated the corruption cases, how corruption is being addressed is what the anti-corruption policies all speak about.
Anticorruption policies which have been successful in other countries (with similar corruption tendencies) can be taken as references to improve the situation in Nepal. Policies addressing the gap of responsibility versus accountability in the government sector (and helping to promote good and ethical leadership in bureaucracy) are strongly recommended for the effective execution of anticorruption policies.
Research reports and analysis that use comparative techniques to examine ethical practices in governance are another side factor of anticorruption policies. Two kinds of commitment are under special consideration: Strengthening the legal tools as the warning or threatening mechanism and developing professional standards for executing certain tasks that focus on legal and organisational aspects of authority.
The legal incompatibilities that provide outlets from legal interrogations directly inhibit standing anti-corruption policies. The approach of commitment involves the possibility of making more out of corruption control than simply creating more restrictive regulations and threats of
Managing corruption is a prominent challenge for the upcoming government. The government has to address the corruption phenomenon with urgency, and it has to be done hand-in-hand with the political transformation. How today's issues of corruption are handled will play vital roles in the overall process of democratization and good governance.
Politics, market and administration are not aloof from corruption practices. The causal relation between market economy and democracy on the one hand (and integrity of civil servants, citizens and enterprises on the other hand), are called into question. Governments in the past grossly ignored the culture of corruption and this negligence resulted in Nepal's failure in combating corruption. Therefore the crux of problem remained due to the lack of promising national initiatives against corruption.Now, with the on-going political transformations, the government has to sharply target the existing corruption culture, to ensure a rapid acceleration in the overall process of democratization.
(Note from the Nepal Horizons Editorial Team: The views and opinion expressed in this article are that of the author and not of NHC. We request individuals with interest in Nepal to submit their views on contemporary Nepalese issues to the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org. Pictures of contributors or images that relate to submissions are welcome)