So, it seems we have to surrender to corrupt people and raise our hats or the white flags for them. Here is the member of one of the most important committees in the Iraqi parliament, the Finance Committee, certifying that the government and its supervisory authorities are unable to act against corruption in governmental institutions.
MP Serhan Ahmed was not unavailingly talking when he said in a press statement that “the government is unable to pursue all the corrupt persons, not only at border crossing points and customs, but also in all government departments in the country…” He must be sure about it since he is a member of the Finance Committee. The former president of the committee, late Ahmad Chalabi, had said that the committee has tons of documents related to administrative and financial corruption, which he presented to the Commission of Integrity and the Judiciary. We have published in this newspaper a large number of these documents.
Corruption in Iraq has 1001 sides. MP Serhan Ahmed talked about one of the most dangerous and the most important sides: it is the corruption at border crossing points and customs services. He said that “corruption invaded the border crossings that are witnessing customs exemptions, random charges on imported goods and issues orders without referring to the concerned directorates. All of these are corruption operations and a waste of public money. They affect negatively the Iraqi people.”
The Prime Minister’s office confirmed MP Ahmed’s statements. It announced some achievements in fighting corruption and controlling the border crossings and customs checkpoints. The Office spokesman Saad al-Hadithi said in a statement that the PM office has achieved “important missions to control the border crossings and establish customs checkpoints between the cities and at the entrances of the capital Baghdad, to strengthen the supervisory role and endorse the actions taken at border crossing points to apply Customs tariffs and collect specific taxes on imported goods.”
The good news in Hadithi’s statement was that the revenues from the customs “rose to unprecedented levels, exceeding the revenues recorded before the implementation of these measures by dozens of times; Customs revenues rose from less than half a billion dinars in the first month of last year (2016) to about 24 billion dinars in December, after the implementation of these procedures.”
Scale of corruption
The difference is huge as we can see; the increase has doubled 48 times, reflecting the alarming scale of corruption in this sector.
Anti-corruption policies in Iraq should not be limited to these procedures, as those who are corrupt will always find a way to circumvent laws, as long as they remain in their offices and posts. The question that is raised here is: Are the governmental procedures taken to fight corruption, limited to border crossing points and customs or they will also hold accountable those who are behind the corruption that preceded these procedures?
There will be no real value to these actions unless they were retroactive.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Adnan Hussein is the executive editor-in-chief of Al-Mada newspaper and head of the National Union of Iraqi journalists. Previously, he has held the position of Managing Editor in Asharq al-Awsat newspaper. He tweets under the handle @adnanhussein