Enough is enough [Archives:2004/707/Viewpoint]

January 29 2004

It is unfortunate, yet true, that Yemen has now reached a level of extreme corruption. Financial corruption in particular has become a regular norm and habit of employees in both public and private sectors.
Never in the past has corruption been accepted it as a way of life in Yemen. But today, it is the source of living for many throughout the country, despite pledges by the successive Yemeni governments to fight it.
It is true that corruption is in every country of the world. But for Yemen, the corruption rates have gone simply too far.
Today, you cannot complete almost any paper work without paying bribes to governmental employees. In some occasions, you cannot get one single signature without giving what is called “Haq al-Qat”, i.e., money for Qat.
It is also evident that the number of governmental employees living on corruption has increased. Interestingly, most of them believe that this is a normal practice and necessary for survival.
“How can you expect us to live on the peanuts given to us by the government? My salary of YR 12,000 will only last for a few days and without such money, I and my children would starve to death.” one of the government employees once said.
What adds insult to injury is that the government is not able to visualize, let alone implement, proper strategies to limit this phenomenon. Good governance is needed to ensure that corruption is diminished in the public sector, but economists argue that uprooting corruption can only be possible by looking into the source of the problem and dealing with it first before enforcing laws that monitor and punish corrupt individuals.
When looking deeper into the issue of corruption in the county, one can easily conclude that it started from loose monitoring, weak law enforcement, and corruption at the top level of the state's hierarchy.
But on the other hand, the issue of poverty is the pressing reason for most of the low-level employees, and justifications are plenty.
It is also shocking to realize that the private sector is now also suffering from corruption, though to a lesser degree of the government. Financial mismanagement, lack of audit control and administrative negligence are the main reasons behind corruption in the private sector.
Most of those who are corrupt in the private sector use their posts in their respective companies to get papers and admissions through from their bosses based on percentages they get as 'commissions' from the benefiting party.
This is typical case for many large companies in Yemen, and they are similar to the model of ministers who would only allow companies to win bids based on how much they pay them as 'commission' and not necessarily for other reasons such as quality and price. This is why many companies with lower quality and higher prices can win governmental bids.
In conclusion, the issue of corruption is now becoming a serious threat to the country's future and prosperity. If the issue is not tackled and tackled seriously now, it will overburden our future generations with economic difficulties they may not be able to cope with.
Will the government realize the graveness of this issue?
I hope so.