Abdul Hadi Al Shahwani & Dr Saud Al Azba
DOHA: With Qatar falling five places on the Berlin-based Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, debates rage in some circles here over what many see as an unwelcome development.
The first public reactions that trickled in were on local social networking sites. However, from the comments posted on these sites it is obvious that people have not taken Transparency International’s report seriously.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2012 ranked Qatar 27th in the global ranking of countries perceived as the least corrupt- the lowest ranking for Qatar in the last four years. In 2010, Qatar bagged an impressive 19th spot compared to the 22nd in 2009.
For the Transparency International’s report, authorities and business analysts were asked to rank some 176 nations on the likelihood of bribery and the accountability of public officials. The group generally defines corruption as the “misuse of power for private benefit”.
But there are many who believe that such reports can be easily ‘hatched up’. Comments on Qatar’s social networking sites suggest this.
“I don’t believe in such kinds of reports and I advise you to not take it seriously. Reports like these can be easily created,” said a commentator on a social networking site.
Another commentator suggested as a matter of fact that such kinds of reports have, in fact, ‘nothing to do with our family situation and they will change nothing in our daily life’.
One commentator wondered if “wasta” (influence or nepotism) could also be considered a form of corruption. This form of nepotism is generally considered ‘acceptable’ in most Arab societies, including Qatar, where people use their resources to get things done.
Others, meanwhile, rejected the findings of the report altogether, which they believe is simply a form of propaganda.
The only Gulf state to improve its ranking in this year’s report, the UAE now shares the 27th rank with Qatar.
Many in the UAE are celebrating this achievement, which they account to increasing accountability in various public bodies.
After UAE’s 37th rank in the 2003 CPI report, various regulatory bodies were established, including the Abu Dhabi Accountability Authority, to audit government departments. In the meantime, public companies were also asked to submit corporate governance reports. Other GCC countries are way below Qatar and the UAE on Transparency International’s Index.
In Qatar, several newspaper columnists have been raising the issue of corruption from time to time. The latest was just a few days ago when a prominent columnists talked of the need for transparency in society as a whole—government institutions and jobs, in particular.
Questions have been raised by some columnists over the achievement of an anti-corruption watchdog the government has set up with much fanfare. What the watchdog, the Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, has been able to achieve so far in terms of combating corruption—is a key question some newspaper columnists have been asking.
In a media interview after his appointment as Chairman of the Authority, H E Abdullah bin Hamad Al Attiyah, said earlier this year that there was no need for the people to be scared of the Authority as it was a supportive body for the government as well as the private sector and the people. “It is for the benefit of all,” he said.
He, though, added: “Yes, we are going to a sword that dangles on the heads of the corrupt and those who violate the laws….But we wouldn’t be doing that in the way the police do.” “We will not compromise but we will be fair,” said Al Attiyah. However, so far there are no reports of what the Authority has really done in terms of detecting alleged cases of corruption in its fight against this social evil. The Peninsula