Wanted: Power To End Corruption In Saudi



“The formation of the anti-corruption committee is a first step in the recognition of the existence of government corruption,” stated Dr. Muhammed Al-Qhattani, professor of economics at the Diplomatic Studies Center in Riyadh. “…The issue has been mired in secrecy because some people believe that if the issue remains secret, they won’t be questioned or punished.”



The titular head of the commission will be the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz while the hands-on chairman of the commission, who has yet to be named, will be granted the rank of minister. The commission, which is mandated to be established within the next 8 months, will have the authority to question anyone, including government ministers if need be.


Academics, economists and lawyers interviewed by Arabic dailies for this story expressed unanimous support for the commission, but many have assumed a wait-and-see attitude.



“The most important part of the whole procedure is that the commission be given the power to act as an independent authority,” said Dr. Omar Qadi, former mayor of Makkah and a member of the Shoura Council.



Many still remember a similar law introduced by the late King Faisal, known as ‘Where Did You Get This From?’ The law was never enforced.



Saudi Arabia was ranked 77th out of 163 countries surveyed for Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2006. This indicates that the country is below par in moving against corruption.



“The formation of the commission comes within the framework of recent reforms taken by the Kingdom, especially after becoming a part of the World Trade Organization,” stressed Dr. Hassan Mukhtar, a former member of the Shoura Council.



According to Al-Qhattani of the Diplomatic Studies Center, there is substantial priori evidence that government funds are being misused by officials in charge of dispersing them. He referred to the evident spread of poverty in the Kingdom and the draining of funds directed to areas such as health and education.



The opportunities for embezzlement and misappropriation of funds, he said, are enhanced by government record-keeping that does not properly and clearly itemize expenditures.



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