Analyst: Government needs to implement existing laws and amend ineffective ones
CAIRO: A new proposal for the establishment of a national task force to fight corruption will be presented to the Council of Ministers Wednesday, a Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD) official said Sunday.
Reports of MSAD s proposal first surfaced in January but failed to garner public attention because of the failure of the government s previous efforts to fight corruption. Egypt has consistently held low rankings in international corruption-gauging reports. This week, the Heritage Foundation Economic Freedom Report said the country s economy is just 34 percent free from corruption, compared with 63 percent for Israel and 62 percent for the United Arab Emirates.
According to the MSAD official, the proposal calls for the creation of an authority to synchronize the responsibilities and activities of current corruption-fighting organizations such as the Central Agency for Public Statistics and Mobilization, Administrative Oversight Authority and the Administrative Prosecution Unit.
Abdel Fattah El-Gibali, economist at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and former senior advisor at the Ministry of Finance, says he supports the proposal s aims but sees no need to create a special task force.
You already have a group of organizations whose main responsibility is fighting corruption, El-Gibali told The Daily Star Egypt. All you need is to do is amend legislation that has proved ineffective and implement that which has never been given a chance. This can be done without the creation of a new entity.
Government corruption has been cited by many in the business community as one of the main foreign and local investment deterrents. Alexandria Business Association Chairman Mohamed Ragab says investors not only have to deal with unprofessional and inefficient government employees, but also ones that demand bribes in exchange for services. In addition to fighting corruption on an institutional level, Ragab says the
government simply needs to raise the salaries of its employees, especially ones that deal directly with investors.
Regarding the Heritage Foundation report and others, El-Gibali says they should be taken into consideration by the government, but work must be directed at reducing corruption levels and not elimination all together.
Corruption is everywhere. Even Finland, which ranks first amongst non-corruption countries in [Transparency International s Corruption Perception Index] failed to get full marks, El-Gibali said. The issue is not eliminating corruption, but doing everything possible to reduce its effects on doing business. This will only come with a national effort to increase public involvement and oversight, perhaps through the People s Assembly.