Saudi Arabia Declares War on Corruption

Posted on March 1, 2007


JEDDAH, 20 February 2007 — Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers yesterday approved a National Strategy to Protect Honesty and Combat Corruption.

It also decided to facilitate administrative procedures and question dishonest officials, irrespective of their positions, as part of a major move to root out all forms of corruption from the country.

The weekly Cabinet meeting, chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, decided to establish a national authority to combat corruption in order to follow up implementation of the strategy, by setting out necessary programs and mechanisms, the Saudi Press Agency said, quoting a Cabinet statement.

The Kingdom also called upon the international community, especially influential countries such as the United States, to support the Palestinian unity government as well as to force Israel to abide by the international legitimacy resolutions and respond positively to the Arab peace initiative.

The meeting urged all government departments to protect honesty and combat corruption by carrying out their duties in accordance with the law, reducing and facilitating administrative procedures and implementing the principle of holding any official, irrespective of his position, accountable for dishonest practices.

Ever since he came to the throne in August 2005, King Abdullah has declared a war on corruption and bureaucratic practices. While opening the Shoura Council’s annual session last year, he reiterated the government’s resolve to fight corruption and red tape and improve the efficiency of its employees.

King Abdullah last year rewarded dietitian Abeer Ghazi Al-Masoudi for her revelations about the dishonest practices of her former employer, a catering contractor for state hospitals. She received a cash award as well as a job with a monthly salary of SR5,000 at the Health Ministry. The contractor had prepared false records exaggerating the number of meals delivered to area hospitals. [more]

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Note from Rafik Beekun: Although a good start, more needs to be done to wipe out corruption in Saudi Arabia. First, all government officials’ and employees’ compensation, including those of royal family, should be made public. Second, all non-working royal family members now on the payroll of the Saudi government should be moved into the workforce. Third, government revenue should go directly to an independent national treasury managed by elected officials, scrutinized by independent accounting firms, and backed by a system of checks and balances and transparent public records that are regularly audited.