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Corruption Impeding Development In Nepal

Categories: South Asia, Nepal, Governance, Law, Politics, Technology for Transparency Network

It is not secret that corruption is a major problem in Nepal. According to Transparency International (TI) [1], the country stands 143rd (down from 121) among 180 countries on its anti-corruption scale. New Zealand being the least corrupt and Somalia the most.

TI says that the reason for the country's seemingly unconquerable corruption malice is:

“political instability and weak executive in Nepal with the increased corruption level. Although, this year was relatively peaceful in Nepal, corruption has increased as the law implementing agency has become weaker due to various issues related to transition,”

Mohan Nepali at Groundreport says [2]:

Nepal is yet far behind in the combat against all-pervasive corruption, ill-governance and dysfunctions of its state mechanisms.

The present rise in the petroleum price is also considered as an indicator of the heavy influence of black market forces, operating in nexus with political players, on state power mechanisms.

Dr. Hari Bansha Dulal [3], a well known political commentator, reminds that the culture of corruption has some highly placed promoters.

“It is not only the poor local politicians trying to establish a foothold in politics who are engaged in looting the state; the so-called top leaders of major political parties have not given up their right to loot the state altogether. Madhav Kumar Nepal’s government is planning to waive arrears worth Rs 10 million incurred by former prime ministers and ministers over the last two decades. Except for Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, all former prime ministers of the last two decades are in the list. The timing cannot get better because PM Nepal himself is in the list for the generosity he exhibited during his stint as a deputy prime minister of the country some years ago.

When it comes to looting the state, consensus does not evade Nepalese politicians. And, they really are getting sophisticated at it. All-party unity in draining the state’s coffer is not something that is local to Dang. Lately, this has been happening in every nook and corner of the country. “

The culture of corruption in Nepal is not limited to the government and politicians. Sadly, social life has also fallen victim to this disease. Krishna Bhusal [4] writes in his blog how marriages-with high dowry demands from the groom's family and the bridal side willing to ignore character imperfections of the groom if he is in well place position within the government (where he is able to extract undue political and economic benefit) is affecting the sanctity of social relationships.

In recent years, due to large number of Nepali workers traveling abroad in search of employment, immigration and border security has also morphed into a virtual gold mine for those officers seeking undue benefits. In a blog by Nepali officers, B. Basnet [5]-who was recently transferred to a different department, discusses why immigration staff find corruption so enticing.

“In Immigration, the illegal travelers are the source of major illegal income. Normally fair travelers are not under targeted income source list. The types and volume of illegal or curtailed travelers are amazing. Most of the illegal work is done with the pre-consent and coordination of higher level official of the Ministry and Department. The percentage of such income immediately distributed through their agents. So, it is stupid to blame only to the junior immigration staffs for corruption matters.”

Basnet says that reforming immigration should start from the higher level officials.

To gauge the scale of Nepal's culture of corruption, here is an YouTube video [6] from Kathmandu's Avenues TV. You can see how a community water distribution project in district of Salyan's materials buying process is rigged.

“Corruption affects us all,” recognizes [7] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his message on the International Anti-Corruption Day today.

Corruption is entrenched in Nepal. Culture, social relationships, business and government-all affected by this malice. Unless the people and the government work together to end social acceptance of the practice, it is unlikely that honesty is going to make a comeback in Nepal.