Bribery and professional ethics [Archives:2007/1046/Opinion]

April 30 2007

Awatef Al-Sharjabi
Regretfully, there are many employees, who don't abide by professional ethics while in charge of many routine administrative procedures in several offices, institutions, authorities, and ministries. In the public sector job, which is the government employee's daily task, he/she must perform well for a monthly salary, turns to create obstacles and barriers to the progress of procedures. Public sector employees tend to prolong procedures of clients in government offices in order to force clients pay them bribes. Seeing the money, the employee in charge of clients' procedures does his job in a better way. We say 'he' and 'his' as the phenomenon is usually exercised by male employees.

What surprises us is that such malpractices are exercised in public without shyness while receiving bribes doesn't carry any penalties on the bribed employees. Bribes have become commonplace among junior employees and senior officials, as well. Employees bear in mind that receiving bribes is similar to rewards, as well as a primary condition to improve their performance.

When one inquires about the causes of the spread of the immoral phenomenon that hinders procedures and convey bad impression about government workers, he is due to find out numerous factors such as the low salaries, expensive living standards, and the lack of firm measures and penalties against those who take or accept bribes.

Clients, who have no enough money to pay bribes in order for their procedures to be accelerated, don't think about raising complaints to any government parties since they absolutely believe that no attention will be drawn to their complaints, nor do the concerned parties react to the phenomenon.

Bribery remains bribery and promoting government employees to extort citizens in pursuit of procedures and exercise such illegal conducts is an insult of the state, as well as the law and order. It appeals to the mind that nothing will be done or achieved unless there are bribes.

It has become apparent that clients, who can afford to pay bribes, promote government employees to exercise the bad habit. Some clients automatically move their hands to their pockets in order to pay bribes to those in charge of their procedures to help them finish the procedures on due time. They got the cell phones or land lines of employees to contact them with the aim of accelerating the progress of their procedures in exchange for bribes.

What upsets us is that such misconducts have become one of the primary requirements of the job and are exercised in public without any feeling of shyness. Exploiting the ineffective job-related laws and obligations, the simple employee asks for bribes just as he sees the client and doesn't take into account the financial condition of the client. Such a bad habit blinded clients and employees as well against ethics of the public job and made them blindly view bribes as a legal right accrued to government employees.

We are frightened as the misconducts have become rampant in all the government facilities with no exception while employees leave their disks and duties to roam in the corridors in search for clients to extort them. What is the real reason for the spread of the bad habit? Some attribute the phenomenon to low salaries and others to the expensive living standards. Above all, the phenomenon is symptomatic of the lack of clear conscience on the part of the government and its workers, indifference of control and audit authorities toward the phenomenon and absence of effective job laws and regulations.

Source: Al-Thawra Daily