CAIRO: Global Integrity, a Washington D.C.-based organization, ranked Egypt No. 34 out of 43 countries in its annual corruption and governance report for 2006.
With a score of 57 out of 100, Egypt s anti-corruption policies ranked very weak, well behind Israel and South Africa, with scores of 83 and 81, respectively, and ahead of Lebanon and Vietnam with scores of 51 and 47, respectively.
Global Integrity is a non-profit organization whose reports are relied upon, among others, by the World Bank and its lending arm, the International Development Association, in the production of Country Policy and Institutional Assessments and loan allocations.
The report is the second to come out since the beginning of 2007 from an international organization giving Egypt low marks on fighting corruption. In January, 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.
Sameh Fawzy Henien, a local journalist and a contributor to the Global Integrity report findings, cited the February, 2006 ferry disaster which killed more than 1,000 people, election fraud, and uncovered cases of corruption in state-run media as indicators of significance.
In Egypt, corruption has been systematically embedded into daily life, Henien wrote in his final assessment. People have to bribe public employees to get illegal permits and public goods. Even services to which people are lawfully entitled aren t accessible without lubricating the government s bureaucratic machine with money.
In late January, Minister of Administrative Development Ahmed Darwish proposed creating a governmental task force to fight corruption, an initiative now under discussion at the Council of Ministers. 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.
The effort was quickly criticized by local analysts for its resemblance to other corruption-fighting initiatives that have proved ineffective.
You already have a group of organizations whose main responsibility is fighting corruption, Abdel Fatah El-Gibali, economist at Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and former Ministry of Finance advisor, 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 efficient 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.