Browsing 'corruption' News

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The UAE has beat out Qatar as having the most trustworthy government in the Middle East this year, according to the latest international corruption rankings.

Qatar is now considered to be the second least corrupt country in the region, the 22nd annual edition of the Corruption Perception Index 2016 states.

It ranked Qatar 31st out of 176 nations. This is down nine places from last year due in part to World Cup corruption questions and human rights concerns, the report said.

Meanwhile, the UAE fell one spot to 24th.

States are ranked according to their levels of public sector corruption. This is judged by around a dozen world institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Economist Intelligence Unit and the Asian Bank.

Denmark tied with New Zealand for the top spot in this year’s index, while Somalia once again came in last place. The UK maintained its 10th place ranking while the US fell two spots to 18th.

Drastic declines in the Middle East

According to Berlin-based Transparency International, Qatar had the sharpest decline in the region this year in terms of its score (not ranking).

It attributed the 10-point drop to “FIFA corruption scandals, especially around the votes to host the 2022 World Cup, in addition to human rights violations of migrant workers.”

Other Gulf countries also dropped down the index, due to suppression of public freedoms and the absence of active, independent civil societies, the report said:

  • Saudi Arabia went from 48th to 62nd;
  • Kuwait fell from 55th to 75th;
  • Bahrain plummeted from 50th to 70th; and
  • Oman fell from 60th to 64th.

Qatar and the UAE were the only Arab countries that ranked above average in the index.

Some 90 percent of other nations in the region received failing grades. And five of the 10 most corrupt countries in the world were from the MENA region.

This includes Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen and Syria.

What can be done

According to Transparency International, low rankings often translated into a link between corruption and inequality. These factors lead to unequal power and wealth distribution, it said.

This leads to unequal power and wealth distribution, it said.

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It added that countries with higher rankings tend to have “higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials and independent judicial systems.”

In terms of the MENA region, the report urged leaders to improve their standing by protecting freedom of expression.

It also said governments should “stop persecuting anti-corruption activists, whistleblowers, and civil society organizations.”

Thoughts?

Emiri Diwan

Omar Chatriwala / Doha News

Emiri Diwan

Qatar’s Emir has signed off on legislation that gives more financial authority and independence to the State Audit Bureau, QNA reports.

Law No. 11 of 2016 was enacted yesterday, a few months after the Advisory Council approved a draft bill that increased scrutiny on public money.

The audit bureau already reports directly to the Emir.

Its mandate includes examining the finances of ministries, banks and organizations substantially funded by the government, as well as state joint ventures with foreign agencies.

Transparency

But according to Law No. 4 of 1995, it can only recommend – and not issue – punishments based on its findings.

In a new change, however, the audit bureau can now publish parts of its findings, provided confidential information is removed, Al Sharq reports.

Previously, it was prohibited from sharing its results with the public or media, even if it uncovered embezzling of public funds or waste of government money.

The goal of this would be to increase transparency and discourage companies and entities from breaking the law.

Advisory Council

Also yesterday, the Emir decreed that the Advisory Council will begin its 45th Ordinary Session on Nov. 1.

In Qatar, no laws can be enacted without first being discussed by the influential body, one of the country’s two legislative wings.

All of its members are currently appointed by the Emir, though half of the 30 representatives should technically be elected.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani

However, this summer the Emir renewed the council’s mandate for another three years.

This effectively postpones legislative elections until at least 2019 – something that most Qataris are ok with, according to some officials.

Speaking in London earlier this month, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani had this to say about elections:

Thoughts?

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Josh Hughes/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar’s Advisory Council has approved a draft law that would increase scrutiny of public money in a new effort to combat corruption.

According to the Peninsula, the draft law would give more financial authority and independence to the State Audit Bureau.

The body already reports directly to the Emir.

It has the right to audit and inspect the finances of ministries, banks and organizations substantially funded by the government, as well as state joint ventures with foreign agencies.

Limited scope

However, according to Law. No. 4 of 1995, it can only recommend punitive action based on its findings.

It is also prohibited from sharing its reports with the public or media, even if it uncovers embezzling of public funds or waste of government money.

However, a proposed amendment would authorize the bureau to publish its reports after removing confidential parts, the Peninsula said.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ziad Hunesh/Flickr

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This would help improve transparency and perhaps serve as a deterrent for erring bodies.

In December, an advisor of the bureau said changes to the law were needed for government entities to take the operation more seriously, as some do not respond to requests for information.

At the time, Mubarak Ali Almuhannadi added that falling oil prices were a good incentive for Qatar and its neighbors to improve its budgeting and auditing practices.

Influential council

The draft law was among the last pieces of legislation to be discussed by the Advisory Council before it adjourned for the summer yesterday.

In Qatar, no laws can be enacted without first being discussed by the influential body, one of the country’s two legislative wings.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Penny Yi Wang

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Other topics of discussion this session included:

  • A draft data privacy law that would fine organizations who fail to prevent leaks up to QR5 million.
  • A draft law cracking down on tobacco usage; and
  • A debate on speeding up the Civil Defense inspection process.

Currently, the Emir appoints the members of the Advisory Council.

But according to the constitution, 30 of the council’s members should be elected and 15 appointed.

However, the Emir recently renewed the council’s mandate for another three years, effectively postponing legislative elections until at least 2019.

The council will begin its 45th session toward the end of this year, after adjourning for the summer yesterday.

Thoughts?