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Jul 15, 2010

Corruption in the Private and Public Sectors in the Arab world

The organization of Arab managements and economic development met in Cairo (7/5/2010) to discuss corruption in both the public and private sectors. Twenty-three government officials and more than two hundred experts participated in the discussion that will lead to a strategy to be implemented to combat corruption.

Dr. A. Khiyat, the director, noted hat the Arab world, during the second half of the 20th century (1950-2000) has lost one third (or one trillion dollars) of its national income, which was estimated at three trillion dollars, due to the deep rooted corruption in both the public and private sectors. The second one third (one trillion dollars) was spent on armaments and the third trillion was spent on basic infrastructures, education, health care and economic development.

Experts at the meeting pointed out that corruption exists at all governmental levels to include cabinet ministers, high government politicians and members of the elected parliaments. While the meeting was in secession, the Jordanian military court has sentenced four high government officials to three years in prison for bribes. The cost of corruption in the Arab world has delayed true economic development and contributed to a high unemployment rate, which prevails in most Arab states, especially in the highly populated ones. Furthermore, corruption also contributed to the deterioration of the quality of education at both the upper and the lower levels. The lack of scientific research and the high illiteracy rate created barriers to economic development during the past six decades. Corruption has led to an increase in poverty and has deprived the average Arab citizen of an annual increase of nearly $200, according to the reported analysis of the meeting.

The main factors that fed the growth of corruption in the Arab states are attributed to the absence of democracy, transparency and accountability. Not a single Arab state could be classified as a democratic one. However, the degree of authoritarian rules varies from state to state. The harsher the rulers, the higher the level of corruption in their states. The International Transparency Organization, in its recent evaluation of democracy and transparency scale of 189 governments reflects that in the Arab world Qatar ranked as 22 and the Emirates ranked 30. Saudi Arabia ranked 63, Egypt and Algeria ranked as 111, and Syria, Sudan, Yemen and Somalia were placed at the bottom of the scale. By comparison, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland and Singapore were ranked number one. These states are democratic, with a full transparency and accountability system (www.aljazeera.net, 7/6/2010).

The Arab public officials who met to develop a new strategy to combat corruption are wasting their time. Although each Arab state has laws to prosecute those who break the rules these laws are not imposed on some high public officials. This situation will continue until a democratic system replaces the system of dictatorship and both public and private officials are held accountable.

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