Bahrain Transparency Society welcomes anti-graft panel


The society says this would be the first step to tackle corruption and monitor all government institutions.



“We welcome the Cabinet decision. But it should also question ministers and top officials to promote transparency,” society chief Abdulnabi Al Ekry told the Tribune yesterday.



However, he said there was no law in place to tackle corruption.



“The government should enact a law to fight corruption before it sets up this commission. The anti-graft body will mostly provide recommendations. Concrete steps can be taken if there is a law stipulating penalties in corruption cases,” Al Ekry said.



About the members to be appointed on the commission, Al Ekry said it should include representatives from the civil society organisations. “Judges and lawyers with a clean record should be appointed to the panel. We would also like to see members from the Consumer Society and the Bahrain Bar Society on it.”



Independent organisations had called for such a commission for years and human rights groups demanded an Ombudsman or a similar office to keep an eye on corruption, especially in the public sector.



MPs had proposed a special court to look into irregularities in the government and the public sector.



Al Wefaq Deputy Jalal Fairooz said the special court would investigate ministers, undersecretaries and other top officials on graft charges.



Lawmakers intensified the anti-corruption drive by approving the financial disclosure bill which states that top officials and families can be fined up to BD15, 000, jailed for five years, lose jobs or all of these if there was an increase in their wealth disproportionate to income.



However, the bill is still being debated. The government maintains that it would be difficult to implement the draft law unless a tax system is in place to assess top public officials’ income and savings.



Recently, corruption probes surfaced in major corporations like Aluminium Bahrain and Gulf Air and other entities in which the government has stake.



Bahrain ranked 36, with a 5.6 Index, in the corruption perception scale in the last Transparency International ranking of more than 150 countries, with the number one spot going to the country with the least corruption.


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