THE local Al-Qabas newspaper published last Saturday – March 24, 2018 – news on its front page which left us astonished and sad at the same time. The headline read: “The Public Prosecution released two officials without bail.” They were charged with delayed declaration of assets required by the Anti-Corruption Public Authority.
First of all, well-done Al-Qabas for highlighting the reason behind that huge scandal in relation to the integrity authority; given that the two officials were asked about the reason behind the delay. When questioned, the two officials said they did not receive any notification from the anti-corruption agency. They dared the agency to present evidence if the integrity watchdog claims otherwise.
This news made anyone, with or without a conscience, feel disappointed and astonished; because the anti-corruption agency has had no noticeable activity since its inception in 2013 apart from perusing the declaration of assets of those covered by the law or other related laws.
However, the cause of astonishment is that the law on the establishment of this authority was endorsed during the reign of our current prime minister who was bewildered by deteriorating position of Kuwait in the global corruption index. The same law took effect during the time of ‘Salafist’ minister Shareeda Al-Mausharji in May 2013. If we look at the law closely, an independent mind will discover that it has no precedent.
When the law took effect, the chairperson, deputy and members were appointed with four years tenure. They were showered with financial budget which was unprecedented in terms of generosity. We can understand the monthly salary of KD 12,000 and KD 11,000 for the chairperson and his deputy respectively as they work fulltime; but it is puzzling for the members to receive KD 10,000 per month since we do not see them work fulltime.
In addition, this authority has been given other privileges particularly for the chairperson; similar to those given to a minister, including allowance. The privileges of the deputy are similar to that of an undersecretary in a ministry while the members receive privileges similar to that of assistant undersecretaries. We are not highlighting all these out of envy and jealousy, considering our well-guided government made us used to its temperament, especially the ones it is fond of.
On the other hand, the same government continues to threaten the ordinary citizen with rationalization, taxes and increasing prices of basic commodities. With all due respect to the authority’s officials and members, we have the right to ask what the authority has achieved over the past five years since its inception taking into consideration the privileges it has been receiving.
The failure of the anti-corruption authority has been proven through the Public Prosecution’s ruling which led to the release of the two officials without bail as it failed to perform its basic duty. If this is the case with basic duty, what could be the situation in terms of pursuing looters and bribers who are amassing wealth and whose number continues to grow, while everyone is talking about them except the anti-corruption authority?
Finally, we dedicate to our anti-corruption and integrity agency, its members and violators of its laws the news published by French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ about Marie-Christine Saragosse, former president and CEO of France Media Monde (FMM) – the media group that includes Radio France Internationale, France 24 and MC Doualiya which consists of French Channel 24 and French international radio.
Saragosse was obliged to leave her position because she ‘forgot’ – I am saying that again, because she forgot to submit the statement of her assets and other interests on time. That is Kuwaiti integrity and this is French integrity.
By Ali Ahmed Al-Baghli – Former Minister of Oil