Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Is this the right way to fight corruption?

As part of the new government's plan to fight corruption we've begun to see signs of an educational campaign led by the "Integrity Committee" in many of the state's departments to establish the basic principles and regulations for the work of any state-employed person.
I see that the main problem isn't in the officials or employees and replacing them with others will not solve the problem. The main problem lies in the corrupt system that we inherited from the succeeding totalitarian regimes; we're still subject to the effects of a bureaucratic totalitarian system that gives the lead to the public sector.

Such a system yielded destructive results in many countries but sadly the administration here still adopts it.
What we need is a real revolution in concept and a real transformation in the system because the government departments are full of intermediate rings and unnecessary offices that overload the state's budget and provide more opportunities for corruption to find a place.

Replacing faces or issuing some new regulations won't correct the situation as the new clean official would be faced with a greater number of old regulations that restrict his activity and render him unable to do the change he's supposed to do. Simply, he would be just another prey for the beast of old routine and he would be frustrated that he would have to choose from either joining the corrupt ring of offices, or writing his resignation.

We've been hearing lately about plans for introducing the E-Government system to the ministries as a way to decrease the bad effects of bureaucracy but the current methods of fighting corruption (that are supposed to be part of the bigger plan that includes the E-Govt. too) still show the same old style of thinking; we've received forms in the hospital sent by the "Integrity Committee".
The forms which all employees are supposed to agree to and sign stated 17 points for the employees to commit to.
Among those points are the following:

-Must not prefer one citizen over another because of their religion, race, sex or color.
-Must state any personal interests or activities that might contradict or benefit from the employee's position.
-Must preserve the secrecy of the information if the employee has access to confidential information.
-Must not ask for (or accept) gifts of any form.

The employee should write his name and put his signature at the bottom of the form.
We have also seen many signs and posters hanging on the walls and doors of some municipal and administrative offices encouraging the people to report any case of bribery, blackmailing or authority abuse by any government-employed person and there are also hotlines specific for each of these departments for the citizens to use to report ill treatment or suspicious activities.

The above measures might sound promising for the 1st time but again I say that the error is in the system itself and as long as the government is giving a big role to the public sector we won't be able to get rid of corruption.
We expected the cabinet to include less ministries than before and offer the private sector the chance to handle the tasks which governments failed at for many years but unfortunately here we stand with 36 ministries and one of the highest levels of corruption in the world.


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