Sunil Sapkota in Nagarik, 5 December
In October, the government introduced a provision for civil servants to take an oath every day: ‘I will not indulge in corruption, I will prevent corruption and will honestly work for my country and people.’
Despite this, corruption is more rife than ever, according to a Nagarik investigation. Of the 715 people who went to 15 government offices in Kathmandu and Lalitpur, 504 of them said they had to bribe the official to get their job done. The highest number of corrupt officials were in the Survey Department in Dilli Bazar, where 34 out of the 45 of those who needed registration reported being asked for bribes to complete the work. In two other Survey Department offices in Kathmandu, 50 out of 65 submitted bribes. Officials from Registrar Office and Land Revenue Office were also leading dens of corruption. Out of 180 people who went to four Land Revenue Offices in Kathmandu, 140 were forced to bribe officials.
Officials asked for bribes for a variety of reasons such as expenses for tea and lunch, tips, and saying the payment would expedite the work. In many cases officials delayed work under various pretenses, and would not get the job done until handed a baksheesh. Others said they offered a tip as a reward for the work being completed in time, which was not refused.
A spokesperson from the office of the Prime Minister Binod Kunwar said the oath-taking idea was introduced make citizens aware that they can register complaints if they encounter corruption. Kunwar notes that with greater awareness among citizens, CIAA has been able to catch more officials red-handed.
But the Chair of Transparency International, Shreehari Aryal says that as long as officials do not have a sense of responsibility towards the nation and people, no amount of oath-taking ceremonies can reduce corruption.
Aryal also pointed out that brokers must be removed from public offices so citizens are not deceived by them. The Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation has instructed the Survey Department and Land revenue offices to prevent middlemen from accessing documents.