Battling Corruption

December 08, 2012 - 3:10:54 am

Qatar losing five notches in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2012 and sharing its coveted status as the least corrupt Arab country with neighbouring UAE is a worrisome development for some in the country, as they suspect that somewhere official monitoring of the system has become lax.

Qatar has for long remained the least corrupt Arab country going by the Corruption Perceptions Indices that the Berlin-based Transparency International releases every year. The country’s ranking was 19 in 2010, but slipped a few notches to 22nd in 2011. But it still remained the least corrupt country in the Arab world.

In the 2012 Index that was released recently, Qatar suddenly lost five rankings, with the result that the UAE caught up literally emerging from the blue to share the exclusive spot with it.

“I think somewhere there is a problem with official monitoring. It has become lax. Otherwise, we have enough laws to deal effectively with corruption. The laws are good but the problem is with their implementation,” says prominent lawyer, Dr Saud Al Azba.

Al Azba sees corruption as an essential consequence of nepotism. “When you have nepotism in your midst, it prevents transparency. It’s as simple,” he said in remarks to this newspaper on Thursday.

“Nepotism doesn’t allow selection of the right people for the right job. It, thus, reflects negatively on productivity and transparency,” the lawyer said, advocating a meritocracy-based system.

Then, there might be a lack of cooperation among the various state agencies when it comes to making sure that rules and regulations are implemented effectively, he suggested.

Business magnate Abdul Hadi Al Shahwani had a different view and cautioned against taking the Corruption Perceptions Index seriously. “Such reports are based on information given by the government and its institutions. And they (the reports) tend to compare countries rather than assessing ground realities in a country,” he said. “There isn’t much change as far as Qatar is concerned.”

Al Shahwani was of the view that transparency needed to be improved and the state anti-corruption watchdog ought to be more effective. “It’s not clear what it is doing,” he said.

A Qatari social activist who said he had read the full report commented asking not to be identified: “We expected our country to have improved its ranking (in the Corruption Perceptions Index) this year”.

This shows that monitoring of the system is lax, so the anti-corruption watchdog needs to play its part more effectively, said the activist.

According to the activist, if at all, the problem could also be related to Qatar’s rapidly rising population, growth of businesses and large investment inflows.