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TMCNet:  'Uphold transparency principles in giving aid' [Arab Times (Kuwait)]

[February 10, 2014]

'Uphold transparency principles in giving aid' [Arab Times (Kuwait)]

(Arab Times (Kuwait) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) KUWAIT CITY, Feb 9: This report from the Kuwait Transparency Society (KTS) elaborates important issues that were raised during the year 2013 regarding the transparency aspect and the fight against financial, administration and political corruption. The report will be submitted to the concerned surveillance agencies and the executive and legislative authorities so that it can be used for rectifying the current situation of the country. The Cabinet 1. The Leadership Positions: Any serious efforts to reform the state's administration body should be carried out through the appointment of apt candidates in suitable positions. The government must prove the credibility of its announcement regarding the reforms. Since the issue is of political nature, it has affected all the other sectors even the lowest level of supervisory positions in all government establishments. There is an urgent need for the government and parliament to boost justice, efficiency and better performance. 2. International Aid Support: Before and after its independence, Kuwait has always believed in the importance of supporting and providing aid to Arab and Muslim countries that are facing difficulties. For this reason, the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development Fund was established. However, in 2013, Kuwait donated large sums of money to more than one country but the government did not follow conventional procedures or involve the concerned establishments such as Kuwait Fund for Arab economic development, which caused huge uproar about the expenditure. This reflects negatively on any efforts taken by the government to control excessiveness, collect revenues and review the cost value of simple services rendered by the government. Therefore, we believe that issuance of such financial support should be regulated properly and the decisions should be taken in an institutional manner without yielding to any foreign influence. In addition, provision of such support must uphold transparency principles. UN pact for fight against corruption 3. Slow Implementation : The process of implementing the United Nations' agreements in fighting against corruption has been relatively slow. The government can implement some of these agreements such as 'the right to information' and endorse pacts such as 'conflict of interest bill and general standard principles' without going through the parliament. In this regard, the recommendations set forth by the Kuwait Transparency Society are aimed to encourage the government to implement such basic and vital pacts. National Assembly 4. Electoral Commission: On 24th of July 2013, parliamentary elections were held after the National Assembly was annulled for the second time. According to the electoral monitoring team formed by the Kuwait Transparency Society as well as the international electoral observer team, it is imperative for the electoral commission to adopt the general secretariat law for democracy, which will manage elections, set the election-funding limit, and organize and regulate media and advertisement activities for the candidates. 5. Parliament's Transparency and Parliamentarians' Integrity: Parliamentary work is obscure. In all parliamentary terms, there have been issues that affect the reputation of the members' integrity through various media without figuring out the solutions to these issues. Therefore, the society recommends Kuwait to adopt the best and most successful international political practices that will ensure parliament's transparency aspect and uphold its members' integrity. However, it seems this is not a priority for the parliamentarians and the government. 6. Electoral Constituency Law: A large portion of the Kuwaiti community boycotted the parliamentary elections after the government unilaterally amended the electoral law. Therefore, this matter must be reviewed to ensure majority of the citizens participate in the elections. For this reason, the society prepared a constituency electoral bill that is in line with international standards and should be accepted by all components of the community. 7. Parliament Building: Continuous obstacles prevent the completion of the new parliament building. Irrespective of the unjustified reasons for the long delay, this matter reflects negatively on the ability of the parliament to monitor the executive authority's work and its ability in dealing with such obstacles, which shakes the confidence the public has towards the parliamentarians. 8. Credibility of Parliamentarians: Huge arguments broke out when Kuwait was ranked 56 internationally in a competitive poll report issued by the International Economic Forum. The poll was specifically aimed to demonstrate the level of confidence the public has in their politicians and the level of their moral and ethical standards. Kuwait scored 3.2 out of 7 points, and 26 individuals including a current MP were charged with the offense of buying votes and they were referred to the Criminal Court. However, a fact to be considered is that the suspects are innocent until proven guilty. Ministry of Foreign Affairs 9. Negligence towards Squandering of Public Funds: Disregard towards the huge violations committed by some diplomatic missions in obtaining huge sums of money and overspending by staying in luxury hotels, security services and other similar activities as well as the overpricing of contracts and deals that directly violate the system was observed. The State Audit Bureau had highlighted such suspicious violations, which is an indication that the diplomatic missions require more regulations and proper monitoring of its expenditures and its financial system to stop such violations. In the same context, questions were raised regarding the excessiveness in purchasing our embassy buildings and residential quarters in California, Jordan and Geneva for which millions of dollars were spent while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to present proper explanations in this regard. Ministry of Justice 10. Lawsuits against the State: Almost 46,000 cases were filed in the courts in last five years of which the Cassation Court issued final verdicts. However, only 26,000 of them have been enforced. This reflects the kind of example the government represents to its citizens regarding implementation of the rule of law. 11. Multi-million Deposits: The minister excused himself from responding to the multi-million deposit scandal because by doing so, he will be 'violating constitutional principles and interfering in judicial matters'. Such a response tampers efforts to solve the loopholes in the law pointed out by the public prosecutor over the decision to postpone investigations. The question still deserves at least an answer in order to demonstrate the government's seriousness in fighting corruption. Kuwait University and Public Authority for Applied Education and Training 12. Lack of Seats in the University : The admission crisis in Kuwait University takes place every year due to lack of teaching staff and delay in constructing Shaddadiya University. This crisis, which has extended to the Public Authority for Applied Education and Training (PAAET) and its faculties, the buying of academic certificates and the tendency of graduates to specialize in subjects that the local labor market does not require is not among the priorities of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. Supreme Council for Planning and Development 13. Unorganized Planning: While the state is planning for a new development plan, a report was published regarding severe negligence in the implementation of the previous plans wherein some establishments managed to execute only 10 percent of the plan. Therefore, it is necessary for the planning council to examine the reasons behind the failure and its implications on preparation of the new plans as well as a proper follow-up mechanism. The mechanism, which requires a review process, must be accountable for everyone including the leaders. The supreme council is supposed to transform the work plan into an organized one; otherwise the personal temperament of an authoritarian minister will prevail over the plan while the general secretary of the supreme council will have a significant negative impact on the state's plan due to lack of decisive role of the supreme council 14. Deterioration of Transparency in its work: Kuwait was ranked 26th out of 47 countries worldwide in transparency index for 'Institution of Sovereignty Wealth' in the last quarter of 2012, while UAE was ranked second and Bahrain was ranked 12th. The index is based on ten main principles set by the concerned institution. In June, it revealed that Kuwait's sovereignty assets, which according to it is worth US$ 342 billion, placed Kuwait at the 6th place internationally and 3rd place regionally in the aspect of sovereignty assets. 15. Purchase and Collection of Debts: Legal studies have shown that the authority is neglecting its role in enforcing Law 41/1993 regarding the state purchasing some debts and the way the debts will be collected. This resulted in the loss of rights and continuation of forging unjustified expenditures for the past 20 years. The Central Information Technology Authority 16. Deterioration level of Internet: In an index report regarding information technology that was released in 2013, Kuwait was ranked 62nd internationally, 7th regionally and 6th among the GCC countries. The authority is yet to explain the reason behind this deterioration. 17. E-Government Slowness: A special report specified that slow development pace of e-government services compared to other GCC countries could hinder the process of establishing a comprehensive electronic getaway services aimed for easing and facilitating processes among the GCC countries. Ministry of Trade and Industry 18. Simple Free Trade Areas: In the important technical categorization of free trade areas around the world for the year 2012-2013, countries such as Dubai, Jordan and Bahrain were included from which Dubai was ranked 14th. However, Kuwait was missing from this list, even though Kuwait opened its free trade zone in 1999 where custom duties on imports and taxes on foreign companies are exempted. Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs 19. Administration and Financial Violations: A report on huge administration and financial violations were referred to the minister. In the report, we highlighted the two issues that the ministry has been enduring for a long time — giving financial bonuses illegally to committees and positions, and the deterioration of the maintenance of mosques, which is not in par with the money spent on the maintenance projects. Ministry of Defense 20. Corruption in the Defense Sector: 'The government index on fighting corruption in the defense sector', which was formed by the International Transparency Organization of United Kingdom revealed that Kuwait is among 15 countries worldwide that are facing the dangers of increased rate of corruption in the defense and security sectors without any effective measures to remedy the situation. This raises several questions about the indications by local analyses regarding the increase in military spending to about 26 percent in the past two years, while last year it recorded the highest spending rate since 1996. Public Authority for Industry 21. Companies taking over Lands: One of the companies easily took over 1,300,000 square meters of land in Amghara area. This company then divided the land and gave it off on rent, ignoring the orders issued by the State Audit Bureau to withdraw from the land and transfer ownership from the company. In reality, several similar cases have happened in various areas such as Mina Abdallah, Shuwaikh Industrial Area, Al- Rai and Sabhan. Public Authority for Housing Care 22. Suspension of State Housing Projects: One of the most common reasons behind the suspension of state housing projects is the dominance of political decisions over the technical decisions in the matter, which leads to the cancellation of housing schemes and rebidding of other major schemes. This also results in long implementation delays of such schemes, major administrational problems in the authority's leadership, increased meddling of authorities with the executive body formed for the purpose, lack of proper technical specifications for the schemes and slackness in accountability of the officials, agencies and companies involved in the schemes. Moreover, there are no signs of any sincere attempts to solve these basic problems. Ministry of Oil and KPC 23. Largest fine paid by Kuwait: The readiness of the Petrochemical Industries Company to pay US$2.198 billion fine ordered by the arbitration court in the KDow deal, excluding the interest valued at US$300 million, is by far the largest fine Kuwait has agreed to pay for a single project. The year 2013 ended without revealing the identity of the individuals responsible for this issue as well as formulating measures to forestall similar occurrences in the future. Were the officials of the oil sector who were terminated from their jobs the culprits or just victims? Notably, the government formed two committees for this purpose while the National Assembly had set up a fact-finding panel but the outcome of their activities and investigations are still unknown. 24. Diesel smuggling: Stealing of diesel has been occurring increasingly since 2006. During this period, the country experienced six legislative terms out of which two were nullified and several oil ministers had managed the ministry. Even though various government and parliamentary committees carried out several investigations, none of the culprits was prosecuted. The heinous activity, which is valued at over US$2 million daily, continues steadily. Public Authority for Youth and Sports 25. Repeated suspension of the Jaber Stadium construction: The relevant technical report indicates the Sheikh Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium was completed several years back but it is unsuitable for use. It remains shut for players and fans, while the concerned authority has not released any official statement in this regard. Ministry of Interior 26. Security Corruption: The ministry has witnessed series of administrative, financial and ethical corruption committed by certain security operatives during the year. Some officials used their influence for carrying out trade and facilitated easy escape of some people who should have been penalized due to which the public has lost confidence in the security sector. All these issues are extremely sensitive, which is why the new minister must lay down an effective strategy to restore the lost confidence. General Customs Department 27. Foodstuff Corruption: The use of fake certificates to import contaminated food items resulted in the phenomenon of foodstuff corruption that was prevalent for many years. The problem is due to lack of adequate legislations, obsolete examination technology, inadequate personnel, dearth of laboratories, and delay in execution of the Public Authority for Food bill. Kuwait Municipality 28. Change Purposes for Expansive Land: Based on the decision of the Municipal Council, Kuwait Municipality took away 72,000 square meters from the land allocated to Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research for fish farming. The Municipality later allotted the land to a private company, which in return sublet it to a telecommunications company to use for another purpose. The Municipality is yet to comply with directives of the Ministers Council to retrieve the land. 29. Huge Legal Losses: The Municipality incurred a loss of KD 6.7 million after a court ordered it to pay the amount as compensation to a company because the Municipality forbade the company from benefitting from the land allocated to it. In addition, the Municipality had to pay a monthly fine of KD268,000 until the execution of the verdict. 30. Suspension of Developmental Projects: The widespread phenomenon of bureaucracy has led to the suspension of 174 out of a total 244 projects. Issuance of license takes four months while five months are required for connecting electricity. Other reasons include weak compliance to laws, slow implementation of e-government services and the phenomenon of bribery. Kuwait Ports Authority 31. Misappropriation of Public Funds: A particular company continues to use some jetties in Shuaiba Port for trivial amount even though its contract with the authority has expired. The jetties have been shut down for other shipping and stevedoring activities but the company continues to earn millions of dinars through the manufacturing activities it carries out at the location, which in turn is causing severe environmental pollution. Ministry of Public Works 32. Obstacles in Construction Projects: It was noted lately that the Amiri Diwan has been executing construction projects for the government agencies instead of the Ministry of Public Works, which is constitutionally mandated in that regard. The Diwan might be carrying out the works due to long time-consuming procedures that have to be followed by the Ministry of Public Works, which in turn delays the execution of some projects. If that is the case, the Amiri Diwan should have solved the problems that cause the delay of projects rather than taking over its responsibilities. Government could have solved the problem singlehandedly because the National Assembly would not have objected to proposals for resolving the lapses. Resolving problems and obstacles in the Ministry of Public Works will benefit all state constructions instead of executing few constructional activities by the Amiri Diwan, which is out of its jurisdiction   (c) 2014 Arab Times Kuwait English Daily. All Rights Reserved. Provided by Syndigate.info, an Albawaba.com company


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