Thursday, February 19, 2004

Just the tip of an ice berg.

Last month, I finished a training course about the structure, operation and maintenance of dental chairs and their auxiliaries…etc. This is not the big deal of course, but what attracted my attention was what our teacher (a dental equipment engineer) told us about the last contracts that were made in 1998 and 2000 (under the MOU) to import dental chairs to Iraq.
During my 2 years of practice in different medical centers, I heard a lot of gossip (from other dentists) about undercover bribes and theft related to those contracts.
What the engineer said confirmed my doubts about the theft and bribes in which Sadddam’s regime together with the producing and commissioner companies were involved.

Let me tell you the story:
In 1998 Iraq imported about 1500 dental units from china and about the same number of dental units from Germany in 2000. Both entered Iraq through an intermediate commissioner, which was some Russian firm.
The Chinese unit arrived Iraq at a price of 11,000 US $, while the German one arrived at the price of 25,000 US $. The shock was in knowing that the original prices of those two units were 3,000 US $ and 17,000 US $ respectively.
This means that for every unit, 8,000 US $ were added to the cost…why? And where did that money go?
Another fact is that those prices (the original) are for the full-option versions and not for the versions that reached Iraq, which lacked many parts and systems.
Also the engineer (who was in the team that was responsible for examining and receiving the units) said that the team was instructed to accept all units even if there was a manufacturer defect in any of them.
More worse, the Chinese unit was a total failure (I mean what do the Chinese know about dental equipment if compared with Austria or the US !?), and almost all of those units now are functioning with less than 50% efficiency, and many have even become a piece of room furniture! As the spare parts that were included in the contract were only enough to cover less than 50 units.
The German unit was really good looking and efficient, but very delicate and we suffered from the same problem of spare parts, but this time no spare parts at all.

I don’t want to go deep into boring technical details. What I want to put clear here is that through a very small contract concerning one item, for one branch, in one ministry, over 20 million dollars were stolen from the Iraqi people’s money. What about huge contracts? with hundreds of millions or billions of dollars? The money that was supposed to feed the starving Iraqis and provide them with medications was deflected to bribe firms and to buy political support of powerful countries.
Weeks ago, there was the scandal of oil bribes, but that was not the only way that Saddam used to give bribes. Every single contract done under the MOU was providing a chance for Saddam to give bribes, or even worse, he had agreements with many firms to split the income of over-charged contracts between him and the concerned firm. And It’s obvious where he spent that money; palaces, weaponry, intelligence work or whatever his sick mind desired to have.
There was always enough money to cover the needs of the Iraqi people. YES, EVEN UNDER THE SANCTIONS.
Saddam always managed to get money. But for whom?
My question is: where was the UN? Where were the human rights defenders? And where were the peace activists? And where were our (Arab brothers) with their (honest media) at that time?
We were getting killed and robbed every day and all they did was blaming the sanctions and the US. They never figured out the real cause of our misery. I think it’s time for them to admit that they were wrong.
We’re trying here to build a new Iraq with the help of our friends and allies, so either they help us and say something good, or let them shut the f*** up.

1 comment:

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