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Govt, Assembly must find ways to root out corruption – Kuwait slips eight points on graft index

KUWAIT CITY, Feb 2: “The worst kind of danger prevalent in the country is that corruption has become a matter of prestige to such an extent that some people even brag about it”, reports Al-Rai daily quoting the General Coordinator of Kuwait Progressive Movement (KPM) Anwar Al-Fikri. During a seminar titled “Why has Kuwait become more corrupt?” organized by KPM, Al- Fikri said, “Nowadays, we are bringing up our generations in an atmosphere filled with corruption. This is more of a moral problem than a political issue”. He went on to say, “Corruption has extended to oversight and union bodies, even in Parliament”.

Al-Fikri wondered why some people are being convicted for posting some Twitter messages when millions of dinars are being looted without anyone being held accountable. He indicated the existence of nine dummy authorities, which were formed with the objective of a certain political quota, stressing that, “Corruption is not a unique case. It exists with the support of people with influence and political allegiances”.

Meanwhile, Head of Kuwait Transparency Society Salah Al- Ghazali stressed the need for a joint vision by the government and Parliament of Kuwait in order for the country to escape from the tunnel of corruption. He said, “Kuwait does not have a suitable environment for fighting corruption.

The report issued recently by the State Audit Bureau exposed thousands of financial violations that were committed by state institutions and ministries”. Al-Ghazali indicated, “The recent report of Corruption Perceptions Index, which covered 176 countries worldwide, shows that Kuwait has fallen by eight points”.

He explained that, “The report depended on five international bodies to evaluate corruption in Kuwait. It starts with the most transparent countries, which were topped by New Zealand and Denmark, followed by Finland, Sweden and Switzerland. Kuwait was ranked at 55th position last year, but this year, its position dropped to 75th which raises alarm about the growth rate of corruption in the country.

Al-Ghazali stressed that the United Arab Emirates is in 24th, Qatar in 31st position, while Tunisia is the only Arab country that progressed in the index by gaining three points”. He highlighted four main reasons why corruption in Kuwait continues to prevail. He explained that the first reason is the establishment of Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority in 2012, which was later cancelled after three years and then reinstated again last year. This means it did not perform its duties effectively for more than a year since November 2015”.

Another reason is “the evaluation questions of the index indicated the importance of an active and independent civil society for transparency and integrity. However, in Kuwait, the transparency society was closed in 2015. Scuffles were witnessed in order to prevent its reinstatement and stop it from seeking membership in the International Transparency Organization”. Concerning recommendations of the International Transparency Organization, Al-Ghazali said, “It has a set of measures including existence of strong control and oversight by the Parliament on the government, and strict enforcement of the law on conflict of interest on everyone without any exception”.

Regarding the requirements for achieving more transparency, Al-Ghazali said, “The Kuwait Anti-Corruption Authority’s law is faulty which led to the paralysis of the authority.” He urged for amendment of the current law and setting up of a national strategy for fighting corruption as well as ensuring all entities in the state are in harmony over fighting corruption. He affirmed the importance of incorporating into the Ministry of Education’s curricula the need to nurture generations on principles related to protecting the public funds and fighting corruption. He stressed the need for activating the role of mosques and spreading awareness by Ministry of Information regarding fighting corruption in order to form a general culture within the society to fight various types of corruption.

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