"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: TARIQA
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A fight that cannot cease

Tariq A. Al-Maeena

The war against corruption must never cease. Corruption eats away the moral fiber of a society and eventually ends up destroying the government, institution or the individual’s sense of ethics and integrity. 

This moral decay has fueled enough anger in recent times regionally that long established governments and power blocks have changed. Several leaders have been forced out of office by a public unwilling to put up with corrupt officials. But corruption is not confined to the region alone.

In the annual study released by Transparency International (TI), the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 indicates that corruption continues to devastate societies around the world. The study offers a score of individual countries and how corrupt their public sectors are seen to be.

Two thirds of the 176 countries ranked in the 2012 index score below the median, indicating a major affliction with corruption. With such daunting numbers showing that public institutions need to be more transparent, and powerful officials more accountable, there is much to be done to arrest the tide against the proliferation of this disease.

Corruption is a globally recognized problem, and as stated by Cobus de Swardt, managing director of Transparency International, “Corruption is the world’s most talked about problem. The world’s leading economies should lead by example, making sure that their institutions are fully transparent and their leaders are held accountable. This is crucial since their institutions play a significant role in preventing corruption from flourishing globally.

“Governments need to integrate anti-corruption actions into all public decision making. Priorities include better rules on lobbying and political financing, making public spending and contracting more transparent and making public bodies more accountable to people,” added Huguette Labelle, the Chair of Transparency International.  “After a year of focus on corruption, we expect governments to take a tougher stance against the abuse of power. The Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 results demonstrate that societies continue to pay the high cost of corruption.  Many of the countries where citizens challenged their leaders to stop corruption –from the Middle East to Asia to Europe – have seen their positions in the index stagnate or worsen,” Labelle concluded.

The 2012 Corruptions Index shows that Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tie for first place as the cleanest with scores of 90.  This is undoubtedly a result of mechanisms in place that allow the public unrestricted access to information systems and rules governing the behavior of those in public positions.

At the bottom of the pile lie Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia.  As TI says, “In these countries the lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions underscore the need to take a much stronger stance against corruption.”

Among the GCC countries, only Qatar and the UAE have managed to float above the median line, while the rest fell beneath.  This is not very encouraging.  But what is encouraging is that governments in some of the countries have begun to sit up and take notice, and even propose legislation designed to fight this growing evil. 

In Saudi Arabia, the state-appointed anti-corruption commission has been given full autonomy to investigate corrupt practices across all government agencies.  It has its hands full, as it weaves through a myriad of corrupt bureaucrats in several agencies, with suspicious dealings, failed projects or unaccounted for public funds.

Some may complain that it is not enough. The commission must be allowed more teeth and more bite.  But it is a start for now, and while it is still in its infancy, the public has already responded positively to some of the commission’s unrestrained findings. It will be up the judicial authorities next to administer the appropriate punishment to the corrupt public officials.

As TI rightly states, “Corruption translates into human suffering, with poor families being extorted for bribes to see doctors or to get access to clean drinking water. It leads to failure in the delivery of basic services like education or healthcare. It derails the building of essential infrastructure, as corrupt leaders skim funds.”

The 2012 report concludes that “it’s clear that corruption is a major threat facing humanity. Corruption destroys lives and communities, and undermines countries and institutions. It generates popular anger that threatens to further destabilize societies and exacerbate violent conflicts.”

Governments must integrate anti-corruption mechanisms into all aspects of decision making. Public servants must be held accountable for their deeds. 

Governments should also make public spending and contracting more transparent, a move that would allow less room for acts of fraud and embezzlement of public funds. And finally, the judicial boards must dispense justice in line with the aspirations of the public.  The criminals guilty of fraud and corruption should not be allowed to get off scot-free.

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