‘Global phenomenon’ must not be used to justify failure [Archives:2008/1163/Opinion]

May 12 2008

By: Abdussamad Al-Ghulaisi
I don't know why the statement: “Global Phenomenon” appeals to my mind as pessimistic. Commonplace and frequent use of this statement made me convinced that any official using it means that he/she escapes his/her own responsibility and utters it in a manner resembling sound of a strong thunder, which humble man may not help prevent.

Here, I remember a televised interview with a senior official prior to the Yemeni Unity, established on May 22, 1990. Asked that taxes may constitute a vital revenue source for the state to perform well, the official replied, “Tax payers evade paying taxes to the state's treasury.” When asked why he did not hunt tax evaders, that official responded, “Tax evasion is a global phenomenon.” By this statement, the official believed that he does his job well and is not responsible for what he called 'a global phenomenon'.

Once again the same statement was used by Chairman of Supreme National Anti-Corruption Authority (SNACA) Ahmad Al-Anisi when he said that “corruption is not just a domestic issue, but it is a global phenomenon.”

I don't want to deny that corruption is a global phenomenon. But I further add that corruption is an eternal phenomenon, which has been everlastingly practiced since man first came to existence. How corruption is used varies from time to time and from place to place.

As long as corruption is a global phenomenon, punishing corrupt individuals is a global phenomenon too. Unlike the former, the latter has no place in our daily life, with the exception of what we have recently read that some ministers were eliminated from the new formation in the most recent reshuffle of Yemen's cabinet due to corruption charges filed against them to SNACA. Seemingly, this is a good initiative that may be followed by further charges against corrupt officials.

Financial and administrative corruption is not new for Yemen. This is why the late Yemeni President Ibrahim Al-Hamdi established what was named as 'Supreme Committee for Financial and Administrative Reform' during the early days of his reign in the 1970s. At that time, financial and administrative corruption was in its stages of infancy or a breastfed infant.

On the other hand, today's administrative and financial corruption in Yemen has canine teeth and fingernails, proving to be more able and active than civil society organizations, which Al-Ansis urged to cooperate with his authority in fighting corruption.

Fighting corruption is not that complicated:

I don't believe that fighting corruption should be viewed as a complicated task until the extent of the United Nations becoming concerned about it. Yemenis are responsible for combating the destructive phenomenon while the establishment of new agencies for this purpose reflects how serious the government is to fight corruption. If the responsible agencies have the will to do so, they will succeed in achieving their sought-after objectives with regard to combating corruption.

When the government began talking about establishing SNACA, I gave a call to a senior official in the government and told him, “Dear Sir, fighting corruption needs nothing more than an honest prime minister, who, in cooperation with President of the Republic, has to select honest cabinet ministers to do their best for at least minimizing spread of the phenomenon.

It is impossible for anybody to say that Yemen has no honest men and women. In event Yemen has a clean-hand government, the prime minister will be, in cooperation with the Central Organization for Control and Audit (COCA), able to oversee performance of the cabinet members. And, also in cooperation with COCA, the cabinet members will be more able to oversee performance of executive and administrative officials in the various institutions of the state.

Following formation of SNACA, I gave a call to its chairman whom I know well telling him, “If you want credibility and success for the complicated task delegated to you, you should rather start addressing the biggest issues and then move gradually to other smaller issues. Otherwise or if you do the opposite, people will bear in mind that you make small issues a sacrifice to cover up flagrant corruption cases.”

Enacting an additional legislation package with the aim of empowering civil society organizations to play a vital role in this regard may be a good addition to the government efforts in fighting all the forms of administrative and financial corruption. And, all the state's institutions must remain open for media personnel and COCA staff to view what is going on in them, as well as know about their revenues and expenditures.

Disclosing what takes place in the government's institutions to the Yemeni public opinion in a transparent manner and enabling NGOs contribute to the oversight over performance in these institutions is also indispensable for reducing corruption and identifying corrupt officials.

Source: As-Siyassia Daily.