To Fight Corruption:
Accountability Should Follow Reporting
Financial and administrative scrutiny is worthless if it is not
followed up by accountability arrangements.
Seven very transparent and detailed reports were issued by the
Office of Financial and Administrative Control (OFAC), which was
established in 2003. The latest report was issued in December 2010
containing shocking information on growing corruption, administrative
breaches and the wasting of public money in almost all departments
of the government.
The publication of the report in the press and the debate that
followed has undoubtedly benefited the Bahraini society. It has
shown the size of corruption within the State and highlighted ways
of combating this problem and the obstacles it may face.
Bahrainis have often heard and read many statements condemning
corruption and calling for confronting it. Almost everyone in the
country agrees and without any exception on condemning the abuse
of public money and calls for tougher measures to be taken against
However, many have noticed that the breaches, which were included
in the latest report, have been reoccurring and that no official
body exists to deal with the current situation.
The OFAC is an institution, which was established during the
reform era in order to promote reform and democracy. OFAC has played
a crucial role in enlightening the public about corruption issues,
and has provided MPs with all the tools necessary to combat the
phenomena of corruption. Hence, it is not surprising that the OFAC
reports have been praised by many bodies.
Top senior officials, including HM the King, the Prime Minister,
the Crown Prince and other ministers have praised the report. However,
a crucial question remains unanswered: what will happen after the
publication of the report? And is its role only confined to monitoring
and scrutinising Government?
At the present the public are aware of the reality of corruption
and the financial breaches in the country. The next important step
involves the activation of the administrative and legislative bodies
in order to combat these breaches and correct the mistakes so that
they are never repeated again.
Accountability and correction is the next step, but who is authorised
to implement the recommendation of the OFAC? Is it the House of
Representatives, where a number of its members expressed their shock
over the report? Can MPs summon ministers for questioning, as some
MPs suggested? Or does the solution lie in establishing another
institution such as the High Authority to Combat Corruption, as
some civil society institution suggested?
Or could the solution be in setting up a joint committee from
both the Council of Ministers and the Parliament that can follow
the implementation of the OFAC recommendations and hold those responsible
The above can be summarised as follows:
The importance of scrutinizing and monitoring the financial breaches
and administrative corruption. There is no official sensitivity
regarding pin pointing and publishing the areas of fault in State
institutions, as the latest report has shown.
The official reaction shows that there is no problem in holding
those responsible for corruption accountable. The problem lies in
the absence of mechanisms that can achieve this.
The considerable amount of breaches in the report shows that
the Government is serious in confronting financial and administrative
corruption. Many of the breaches could have been hidden as is the
case in some countries. Although the size of corruption is a cause
for concern, it is pleasing to see both the Government and the public
are ready to take steps to combat it.
The reform project brought about a chain of reforms, which are
difficult to undo. Combating corruption can only be achieved by
having a strong House of Representatives, anti-corruption legislations,
vibrant civil society institutions and free expression. Combating
corruption is an indispensible part of the political reform and
the time has come to take strict measures towards implementing it.