Gov’t Departments to Have Their Own Corruption Prevention Units

By San Yamin Aung 7 December 2018

YANGON—Stepping up his administration’s anti-graft efforts, President U Win Myint has approved the creation of corruption-prevention units within government departments.

As part of events to mark International Anti-Corruption Day in Yangon, President U Win Myint issued a statement announcing that he had approved the setting up of Corruption Prevention Units (CPUs) by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

Commission chairman U Aung Kyi told local media at a press conference on Friday that forming the CPUs will increase the accountability of government departments and public institutions in fighting against corruption.

“The CPUs will monitor corruption carefully inside departments,” he said. If a unit finds corrupt activity, in smaller cases it can take action under existing laws and regulations, or it can transfer more complex cases to the commission, he said. The ACC will then bring the cases to the court.

If there is improvement in fighting against corruption in departments, there should be rewards too, the chairman said.

The CPUs are a component of the Public-Private Collaboration against Corruption plan, a key part of the ACC’s 2018-2021 strategy.

The commission has also urged local businesses to develop a code of ethics and establish appropriate internal control measures to prevent corruption.

U Aung Kyi said the CPUs’ most important task would be to conduct corruption risk assessments in order to find the causes of corruption and devise appropriate control measures.

The ACC will also be expanded, adding more than 500 staff as well as opening branches in additional states and divisions.

“Corruption harms economic development and the living standards of our people, and hinders poverty reduction and foreign investment. That is why we vow to combat corruption with a very strong political will,” President U Win Myint said in his message on Friday.

He said his administration is working seriously to combat corruption with the aim of establishing clean government and good governance.

In the middle of this year, it amended the Anti-Corruption Law to expand the ACC’s powers. Under the amendments, the commission can investigate at its own initiative any civil servant who is seen to be unusually wealthy. Previously, it could only probe allegations of corruption in response to formal complaints filed with strong supporting evidence.

Yet, the commission remains toothless in the event of a complaint against the military, which holds three key ministries: Home Affairs, Defense and Border Affairs, and runs key businesses under its own companies.

U Aung Kyi said the commission had not yet received any complaint against the military, but even if it did, such cases are beyond its mandate.

The undemocratic military-drafted 2008 Constitution gives the military immunity from prosecution by the commission. The Constitution grants the military the right to tackle corruption within its ranks using internal mechanisms.