Fighting corruption [Archives:2005/835/Opinion]

April 21 2005

By Hooria Mashoor
Vice person WNC
For the Yemen Times

In the concluding session of the round table conducted in partnership between the Yemeni government and the World Bank earlier this month, heated discussions took place between government and opposition on the reasons behind the spread of corruption in this country. However, everyone admitted to the seriousness of the issue and that the way corruption is spreading it would lead to collapsing the efforts in development unless and until independent and active measures are taken in order to deal with this critical problem.

During the discussions, some questions were raised on whether it was appropriate to spread our dirty laundry in front of the World Bank, forgetting that this institution has been in Yemen as a donor since mid nineties as an important partner in the financial and administrative reform program and whose efforts are being hindered because of corruption. The least that this donor could do is simply stop providing the support it does to such countries that don't utilize best the millions of loans, grants and aids.

Many international organizations have sensed the criticality of this problem that is found around the globe, but unfortunately is concentrated in the developing countries, ironically the ones that need any support of any kind the most. This is the case due to the weak control of the law and the domination of the individual roles over roles of institutions. The United Nations Development Program had organized a regional workshop mid last month in Dubai on this very phenomenon. The workshop concluded to a number of recommendations most important of which is to support independent jurisdiction and endorsing the monitoring role of the parliaments along with freeing them from executive authority's control. The recommendations called for activating the monitory bodies and to apply unbiased standards that are based only on quality and qualification. It also called for the importance of the involvement of civil societies in the supervising mechanisms and anti corruption machineries. This regional workshop was a foundation step for the international forum to be conducted in Seoul at the end of May, attended by heads of governments and many international organizations.

The United Nation's in its framework aiming at supporting good governance has called on the member states to ratify a convention on fighting corruption. This international interest in combating this phenomenon is critical now, especially since any issue that was considered in the past to be local and of local interest, today has an impact globally especially with regards to investment climate and international trade. These two issues are the backbone of economic growth because burdening investors with need to pay bribes, unreasonable fees and commissions would only deter them from investing in these markets and lead them elsewhere where there is less corruption and better rule of law.

Back to our round table, that was full of recommendations and clear suggestions regarding fighting corruption, it is still unclear until today whose responsibility it is to put the words into action.