The most difficult kind of corruption is the kind whose perpetrator acts legally according to the law and the constitution in a way that leaves no room for doubt, unless people around him are experts. The kind of corruption that is a drain on public funds in a way that does not violate the law but rather the human conscience, especially if it was the management’s decision to scrap things that are fit and working, just because they are not this year’s trend, or increase the wages of senior officials in a country whose officials announce to its poor that their country is poor.
There is no doubt that we are still living in a strange state in Egypt, where one thing and its opposite happen at the same time, and maybe that is why we are still in a transitional stage that has no end in sight.
In this article, I will quote some words said by president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, which are “where to get it and for how much?” The reason for this is that I want to explain, in simple terms, several matters which we will be looking at in this article.
First: the cabinet has requested from the parliament an increase in the wages of ministers and their representatives. This happens at a time where all segments of Egyptian society are suffering from stagnating wages since the Egyptian pound was floated in November 2016. Is the government concerned with surviving the sinking of the pound and do they not care about the Egyptian people as they fall into the flames of the burning prices? Where do we get some of that, prime minister, and for how much?
Second: the cars of the head of the parliament and the mistrust in the report issued by the general secretariat of the council of the Egyptian parliament. It is a report that may be believed by some. Why? Because I was a member of the former parliament and we had the same problem with Saad Al Katatny, former head of the parliament, and we refused to purchase new cars because it may be considered a waste of public money. We are a very poor country and I assure you that the cars we already have are in good condition and scrapping cars purposely, to satisfy the head of the parliament, Ali Abdel Aal, is not right. We have Mercedes and BMWs in very good condition, owned by the consultative council and the House of Representatives. The question here remains: where do we get that and for how much, parliament?
Concerning the same issue, a report by the general secretariat of the council of the Egyptian parliament was issued, containing serious information that require investigations and legal accountability concerning the content. This was stressed in a letter from representative Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat to parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel Aal, in response to the report about purchasing cars for the council worth EGP 22m. El-Sadat noted the following:
First: the report issued by the general secretariat of the council of the parliament said that the cabinet, by the end of 2015, during its financial and administrative management of the parliament’s affairs, in the absence of a parliament, said that the armoured car that is especially allocated to the head of the parliament was transferred to the cabinet, which is a violation of the parliament’s funds.
How can anyone have temporary authority to transfer funds and assets owned by another authority that is financially and administratively independent from it without anything in exchange? This is considered a clear waste of the property owned by parliament, and it must take the necessary measures to recover the cars and compensation for the value of their use during a period of two years, or at least recover the full value of the cars and report those responsible for the issue to the public prosecution in order for legal action to be taken against them.
We wonder about the fate of the armoured cars of the consultative council which the parliament was meant to own, based on the constitution. Where are these cars? Why not use them instead of purchasing new ones?
Second: the general secretariat’s report said that during the absence of the parliament, those who managed its affairs have scrapped 25 passenger cars. We can only wonder about the models of those cars and the condition they were in, as well as the price and their date of selling, in addition to many other questions in order to understand whether it was a wise decision or not.
The report said that the value of the cars sold was transferred to the state’s budget as assets and properties of the parliament; however, there was no clear mention of the amount in the final account statement.
In the absence of the parliament, those who managed its affairs have demanded an increase in the budget, in order to purchase new cars. This makes us wonder about the reason for this extravagance at the same time Egyptians are required to adhere to austerity and withstand the harsh economic measures.
Thirdly: the statement issued by the parliament’s general secretariat said that they did not receive any cars so far, even though the cars were contracted in February 2016 after the parliament’s session and fully paid for, according to the 2015/2016 parliamentary budget report.
I wonder where the cars are and what actions have been taken against the Ministry of Defence, which is responsible for supplying the cars. Is it possible to cancel the contract? How is it that the full value of these cars has been paid for, but no shipment has been forthcoming?
Fourthly: the general secretariat said that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for this situation in an attempt to deflect financial accountability for the purchase. Such behaviour is irresponsible because the Ministry of Defence is one of the strictest and most decisive ministries and such accusations should not be thrown around lightly.
This indicates that these offenses fall under the classification of ‘an excuse uglier than guilt.’
Lastly I had hoped that the famous undeclared state-owned group of channels that have been launched recently would carry with them a clear, meaningful, and informative message for Egyptian citizens.
I wish that instead of such duplicated and monotonous programmes, which aim to distract citizens from diabetes, blood pressure, and the dollar crisis, these channels would focus on saving and developing the Egyptian Radio and Television Union (ERTU).
It’s not difficult, all we need is a three-year structural plan to reduce the number of professional working groups and technicians through an optional early pension plan, and to launch five or six channels that benefit from the potential that the ERTU holds.
The question then remains; how much would it cost and from where should we gather the money for it.
Long live Egypt, if we truly love it.