AFTER years of strenuous efforts, the National Assembly approved in 2015 the law on the Establishment of the Financial Control Department which was to be reporting to the minister of finance and headed by an official in the capacity of a minister.
The aim of the department was to control the performance of the State in the area of finance and ensure transparency and integrity.
The department also wanted to bring credibility and confidence to the financial procedures, ensure compliance with the laws, regulations, circulars and regulatory decisions, provide necessary counseling and general guidelines to the institutions under its control and keep an eye on the collection of state revenues.
However, a majority of the above objectives three years after the establishment of the department remains just ink on paper ‘especially in the era of billions’.
The reluctance of some officials to address the issue of ‘deviation’, which is almost intentional has emptied the law of its content and lack of seriousness is crystal clear, not to mention the continuation of the series of abuses and poor handling by the financial controllers working in government institutions. Another clear indicator of the dilution of the work is a recent statement issued by the head of the department which said controllers have the right to receive gifts, in any form, worth no more than 100 dinars.
This decision raises many question marks, especially when we know the law that established the department forbids officials from receiving rewards in any form and in any amount from public or private institutions, which may have a direct or indirect impact on the neutrality and independence of the department work.
Consequently, this decision is illegal, meaningless, and nothing has been found to justify its issuance. It only means diluting the task of the controllers. What will the head of the department do, for example, if someone received a precious painting as a gift, but the price was estimated at one hundred dinars? And what if it was 101 dinars, for example? Will the second be punished for one dinar, while turning a blind eye to the owner of the precious painting, because an agency estimated it for 100 dinars? The mere issuance of such a statement — if true — or the unreasonable permission is a concrete evidence of the lack of seriousness in the work of the department will be the most likely.
The commitment to the function of the department is not easy, and is not desirable from many of the state agencies. The implementation of all the functions of the department will delay the work of several parties especially in the beginning, but the positive results of the pre-control will appear over time, and show the need for its existence in light of all this waste, and thefts that have become more public.
At the end of this brief article we hope that the head of the department, attorney Abdulaziz Al-Dakhil, will withdraw his decision to allow the controllers to receive gifts in kind or cash, whatever the amount, especially as the core of their task is to prevent senior state officials from receiving them. The head also has the responsibility to protect and support controllers, not to degrade them, as has been rumored.
By Ahmed Al Sarraf