Nepal Notebook: When corruption is part of the culture…

An inconvenient truth: Nepal has the dubious distinction of being one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

By Surendra Phuyal

That question is asked by all in the Himalayan nation — everyone from international visitors, who have to deal with bribe-taking officials right at Kathmandu’s international airport, to the hapless citizens of this country of approximately 30 million.

In July 2009, Nepal’s anti-graft body, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA), came up with a smart idea to discourage staff at Kathmandu’s international airport from taking bribes. CIAA suggested top officials at the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) make “pocketless” pants mandatory for all staff.

The suggestion came after widespread reports and complaints by airline passengers about petty corruption, such as bribery and theft, by staff of CAAN, various airlines, customs and immigration, and even by security personnel posted at the airport. CIAA’s pitch made international headlines, but it seems the plan served only to make a mockery of Nepal’s corrupt officialdom. The suggestion even prompted CAAN officials to discuss the idea, but they failed to come up with a concrete plan of action.

The result: The “pocketless” pants are nowhere to be seen, complaints from airline passengers haven’t stopped and bribery continues at the Kathmandu airport, if reports in local media are accurate. Continue reading Nepal Notebook: When corruption is part of the culture…

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