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Health Ministry tops new reports of corruption in 37 govt agencies

‘Nazaha’ points finger towards senior officials

KUWAIT CITY, Jan 18: While the concerned State authorities are working together to stop corruption, Kuwait Anti- Corruption Authority (Nazaha) announced that about 90 new reports on corruption and suspicion of corruption in 37 government agencies were registered in 2020, reports Al-Qabas daily. The daily obtained a copy of Nazaha’s recent report stating that the Ministry of Health registered the highest number of reported corruption and suspicion of corruption cases with 11, followed by the Ministry of Awqaf with six.

Nazaha received 12 suspicion of corruption reports involving different public institutions including the ministries of Electricity, Water, Interior, Public Works and Education; as well as Kuwait Municipality. The ministries of Social Affairs, Information, Justice and Finance; in addition to the Public Authority for Food and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are included in the report as Nazaha is currently looking into two corruption and suspicion of corruption reports in each of these institutions.

Moreover, one report each was registered involving these institutions — Public Authority for Civil Information (PACI), Awqaf Secretariat, Ministry of Oil, Public Authority for Minors Affairs (PAMA), Planning Council, Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA), Financial Observers Authority, Public Authority for Industry (PAI), Kuwait Ports Authority (KPA), Public Authority for Youth, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The reports included files confirming suspicions of corruption, as well as financial and administrative violations; indicating these crimes constitute more than 94 percent of the total number of reports. On corruption-related reports based on job category, Nazaha revealed the directors of departments topped the list of suspicion of corruption cases at a rate of 34 percent, followed by officials with the rank of assistant undersecretary with more than 15 percent.

The other categories include the directors of various entities and their deputies. The Minister of Health Dr Basel Al-Sabah has referred two ministry officials — who received medical supplies through direct contracts without paying the suppliers — to the Public Prosecution due to irregularities, suspicion of complacency and wastage of public money estimated at millions of Kuwaiti dinars in contracts with 19 companies for the provision of emergency medical supplies during the corona pandemic, reports Al-Qabas daily quoting reliable sources.

Sources disclosed the referrals came in the midst of confusion at the ministry after the State Audit Bureau (SAB) recorded comments regarding these contracts, citing Article 52 of Law No. 30/1964 on financial violations. Sources pointed out the ministry has expressed disappointment over this matter, as it was made to believe that the contracts were concluded in accordance with the legal frameworks and fair international prices. Sources said these officials will pay the companies, which will definitely obtain their rights through the judiciary.

Sources asserted the cost will increase in case the companies win the lawsuits that will be filed against the ministry, especially since the contracts were made as per its request and official letters were sent in this regard. Sources added the ministry referred its disputes with SAB over the alleged violations to the Dispute Resolution Committee in the Council of Ministers as it is in charge of resolving disputes between government agencies. Sources confirmed the committee has asked the ministry to provide the necessary information, but the latter has been slow in responding.

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