How to end corruption in Kurdistan

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Heyrsh Abdulrhman
  • 12/05/2012 00:00:00

Corruption has greatly increased in Kurdistan for the past few years posing as a very serious problem. The governmental authority has not had a serious strategy to combat corruption and this has made the circumstances of people to be discouraged. What have caused the flourish of corruption in Kurdistan are the two ruling parties. The two political parties have been frequently confronted by Kurdistan Regional Government on what they have been able to achieve for the nation but the explanation that they give is that they have resolved shortfalls about the deterioration of corruption but this is no true because their strategies have been ineffective. They have been squandering billions of public funds without any accountability and there are no goals which have been reached. Corruption in Kurdistan takes place on the basis of nepotism, tribalism, factionalism and regionalism (Abdulla, J 2012).

Corruption

Corruption is referred to as the private wealth seeking behavior of a person who represents the state and the public authority. Corruption occurs when public officials misuse public resources for their private gain. It is abuse of public power for private benefit. Corruption in Kurdistan can also be defined as a transaction between public and private sector where collective goods are illegally converted to private payoff (Abdulla, J 2012).

The political members of Kurdistan are corrupt as their behavior deviates from the formal rules of conduct which govern the actions of a person who is the position of public authority because of private motives like status, wealth and power. Corruption in Kurdistan is high because there are scarce political opportunities therefore corruption occurs because people are using wealth to buy power and in places where the economic opportunities are few, corruption happens because people use political power so that they can pursue wealth (Knights, M 2009).

Corruption in Kurdistan has been greatly dominated in the political arena whereby the two political parties dominate the civil society and the private sectors. They have been able to dominated this sectors through a patron client system whereby large amount of Kurdistan Regional Government benefit are able to move to the two parties thus giving them a huge financial capacity to provide services and money so as to provide loyalty to the parties in return (Knights, M 2009). Due to the wide spread increase in corruption the dependency of finance for the two parties at the same time have been able to prevent the people from having the opportunity to engage in any public oppositional activity.

Corruption on politics

Corruption has become a political and institutional problem. The poorest sections in the society are the ones who bear heavily the impact of corruption because they bear the cost of distortion and the deprivation that is caused by corruption (Abdulla, J 2012). When there is corruption on politics it renders the nation to be incapacitated and impotent and it affects the ability of the state to extract taxes, to be able to implement rational and coherent development policies, to redistribute resources among different groups and people and finally to transform the society and the economy according to the political priorities (Abdulla, J 2012).

The state will not be able to extract taxes because the groups and the individuals will allow have their way out. When there is corruption on politics the bureaucratic regulations will be restructured, this regulations will be manipulated and operated in a confusing manner so that bureaucratic will have an opportunity to collect bribes and many other personal interests. When the regulations are unstructured the public officials will have other tasks to attend to and there will be insecurity in hamper investments thus causing the state revenue to decrease therefore the ability to provide public services will not be possible.

Corruption in Kurdistan is high in politics and this has reduced public investments because political members have been able to redirect public investments to unproductive and easily embezzled sectors. Political corruption has had an effect on the political systems as they have been rendered illegitimate. Kurdistan have had a direct effect because of the political corruption that have been there in the nation as the rules of the political game and operating rules of the political system have been affected.

There have been manipulation of the political institutions and the rules and regulations of the procedures by the political parties for the sake of their private benefit. This has resulted to institutional decay and the political parties have not shown any will to encounter with the problem because they are not willing to change any system that they know brings a lot of profit to them personally.

The root of corruption

Corruption is the biggest economic problem in Kurdistan and the economy is monopolized. All the financial institutions including the business centers, illegal and legal foreign imports and exports, commercial lands and complex and the black market are either owned completely or covertly by these two major political parties (Abdulla, J 2012). Politicians are the source of corruption who distributes contracts among themselves quietly without the knowledge of the public.

In Kurdistan a person who has not has political connection or if you do not have a mandatory partnership agreement you are not given the opportunity to implement any form of business investment in Kurdistan. The senior members for these two political parties use public funds for their personal interest spending most of the money on lavish vacations, comfy cars and other interest while the poor citizens starve to death and others die from illnesses because of lack of government attention (Abdulla, J 2012).

Corruption in Kurdistan has affected the economy very much as public funds are being deposited to private accounts in financial institutions in Europe, USA and Lebanon in different accounts under different names with the knowledge of the host state (Abdulla, J 2012). When these funds are deposited to these accounts there is no any serious taxing system that is used so that such illegal earned money can be examined showing the extent of how corruption have been taking place. Cash distribution, retirement plans, education opportunities and real estates are only accessible to only the members of the political parties.

A person who has not joined any of the two ruling parties in Kurdistan does not have the opportunity to see any advancement. Those job placements that are superior are only placed for the members of the political parties and they are not based on the achievements and because of this type of corruption there are many qualified young people in Kurdistan who are deprived from the opportunity to be employed.

Kurdistan has no land ceiling law enacted so that it can restrict people from unlimited ownership of the unlimited resources like the land (Abdulla, J 2012). The government ministers and the members of parliament receive a sum equivalent to $7000 monthly as pension for their lives and there are some members who have served the country for just two years and they have retired but on average each of this members have 5 to 10 real estates properties which value more than millions of dollars. This is the money that they extract from the poor people so that they can leave lavishly and there is no one who can try and attack this people in terms of investigation and also enacting the laws (Abdulla, J 2012).

Corruption is very deep in Kurdistan where there are families that receive only $350 with the ever increase in inflation. Many of these families who receive this amount of income manage to leave in uninhabited shelters which do not have the most basic necessities like electricity, access to clean drinking water, and water and among this type of families there are those who have lost more than three male members hence leaving the dependents with no any livelihood.

This families continue to suffer because of power shortage which goes for almost up to twenty four hours and at some times power may go off for even a couple of days while the government go on and collect utility bills regardless of what have been happening. There are some neighborhoods that enjoy full uninterrupted power supply while people in the same neighborhood have none. This is the depth of corruption in Kurdistan where the rights of citizens are ignored because of discrimination and having unequal distribution of power.

Corruption is also evident where people are compelled to work for the political parties therefore they can not work for the interest of the nation. Transportation system is ineffective and it doesn’t serve the purpose of the nation. There is no emphasis on technical and professional education and because of this the nation is forced to depend on foreign experts hence paying huge remuneration from the public funds (Abdulla, J 2012).

There is a lot of intimidation, repression of critical opponents and imprisonment whereby the anti government voices are beyond measure (Abdulla, J 2012). Corruption has moved even to the media where media is only an entertainment tool and it is not used for the purpose of enlightening people thus the public does not have any idea of what the public is doing. Corruption is deep to the senior political parties as the minorities try to speak out but they are marginalized. There have been attempts by four minority parties trying to submit a joint report to the KRG whereby they were attempting to reform and combat corruption.

This was a pressing issue that needed the government to provide resolution. From this report it was suggesting that the budget of the political parties should be revealed and an integrity organization needed to be created and be provided with necessary power for it to be able to investigate those people and organizations that are corrupt. After the reports were submitted the two dominant parties threatened these four minor parties by saying that they were going to cut down their budget.

Though the prime minister tried to intervene by promising to bring in a committee that was going to investigate the allegations there were no actions that were taken to address them. Corruption is deep in the fuel business whereby fuel shortages are manipulated and created by politicians in the political parties so that the black market fuel price can be raised to their advantage.

Fuel for Iraq is sold to turkey and Syria. Kurdistan oil is being extracted, refined and exported by private foreign countries and this has been done illegally and secretly. An example of a corruption case that was experienced in 2006 was when there was four tracks of fuel which were coming from Turkey that were full of water and the drivers were arrested and trucks impounded but on the same night there was a call from a high official of Kurdistan regional government who claimed that those trucks were his and therefore the drivers were released and making it worse the officer had to apologize.

Need and greed is the cause of corrupt practices that are going on in the nation, where need is applied to those employees who receive low pay mostly those who are entrusted with the power to provide service delivery and handling public contacts. Because those people indulging in corruption are in need of the most basic necessities and they do not have access to social necessities this proves that corruption occurs out of compulsion (Abdulla, J 2012). Corruption is linked to poverty because people who carry out corrupt practices have a need that they want to fulfill.

Impact of corruption to the society

Corruption has a great impact to the society as the root to corruption is linked to acts of mistrust, injustice and suspicion. Corruption creates a sense of insecurity and it adds to the misfortune of the vulnerable segment in the society (Abdulla, J 2012). What corruption brings to the society is that it instills a sense of hopelessness and it also threatens the strength the good values which have been established after having a long period of civilized struggle. Corruption being the misuse of entrusted power in order to have personal benefit it is a behavior that departs from morality, traditions, ethics law and civic virtue.

Corruption can be defined as a behavior that the office holders in the private or public sector have where they improperly enrich themselves or those who are close to them or even induce other people to do so against the law by misusing the position that they hold. Corruption cause a breach to the social order and it is a potential threat to the peace, stability and prosperity of human.

When corruption occurs in government spending it causes a serious reduction in the impact that the development plan would have and thus it results to an increase in maintenance of the public assets. It is the responsibility of the civil administration to ensure culture of sound management or good governance. In a democratic nation accountability begins during election where the rulers and the ruled are linked.

This is where sound and transparent political culture is created and the electorate demonstrates their rights to vote where by people exercise their right without being forced by anybody only under the dictatorship of their conscience. Corruption has had a great effect in the society as the corporate sector has failed because of corrupt practices. There have been a lot of scandals in the corporate sector whereby wrong practices are very common and behaviors that are unacceptable are now being considered as normal practices.

Managers and directors in organizations are being appointed on the basis of political and personal power and achievements are not even considered. Because of this political influence and inefficiency in the top management level it has resulted to a decrease in the quality of output and illegal convergence of interest has caused an increase in insider trading which has brought a setback to the investor and also frustration.

In the society today the impact of corruption is seen through political intolerance, the problems of transparency to the public, lack of accountability, and low level of a democratic culture. There are major and minor economic effects of corruption although they all have serious effect to an individual the community and the whole nation. The impact of corruption to the society is that it leads to depletion of the national wealth because it causes an increase in the cost of services and goods (Romano, D 2010).

It leads to scarce public resources as the corrupt members take public funds for their own benefit leading to misallocation of resources, they convert public wealth to personal and private property, thus causing an imbalanced in economic development. On social basis corruption tend to discourage people to work together and because of frustration it results to a weak civil society. Corruption results to social inequality and it widens the gap between the rich and the poor, it increases poverty, it leads to lack of basic needs such as food, drugs, water, it causes jealousy and hatred, it increases the rate of poverty and insecurity in the society.

How to overturn the system

There has been a widespread of corruption because most of the party leaders do not see that what they are doing is wrong. These leaders think that it is just a compensation for all the sacrifice that they have suffered therefore in order to change the whole economy for the better of the nation people need to join hands and protect against corruption, rampant mismanagement and nepotism in the government.

People should not be afraid of the mistreatment, brutish response from the security forces or even harassment because the protest will be a better way to change the whole nation and an end to corruption. Challenging corruption within the government is not an easy task and this is because it takes different forms therefore people need to be mentally prepared and be extremely vocal when demanding for change.

Reform is needed in all government sectors and nepotism is what has outraged many of the protestors for change (Abdulla, J 2012). In order to change corruption through nepotism, the sons and daughters of the senior government officials or the oppositionist are not supposed to be given any priority in the political or the government sector. People should know that politics is not a family business therefore they should not allow any family to dominate all the high positions because in order to have a decent democracy such acts are not acceptable.

Politics in Kurdistan, women are the ones who are used to fill quotas. The number of women who gain government or political positions is limited. This is because women are socially disadvantaged and the government is doing nothing to make sure that adequate steps are taken to ensure that in politics equal opportunities are given. Women should be ready to fight for their rights so that they can be given equal opportunity and by doing this there will be able to bring a change in the government.

In order to end corruption a change is needed in the political space. The power centers in the society need to be challenged like the flow of money to KDP and PUK which is totally corrupt. People need to be confident and support Gorran so that they can instill change in the political system. The other way of fixing the problem of corruption, which has been dominated by the two political parties is by allowing openness to new actors in the parliament. It is very difficult to be engaged in politics if you do not have relationship with the prominent political leaders therefore there is need to have a movement that will allow others to get into the political system such as Gorran who will be able to change the a patron client system.

Another of fixing the problem of corruption is through availability of influential supporters for challengers. This is essential for social movements and also for political movements and having this relationship with supporters it is provides an opportunity for gaining access and power. The element of having these coalitions with allies provides the potential for strengthening the chances of having change in the political system which will make it possible for corruption to come to an end (Romano, D 2010).

We should understand that change is never created by one person therefore there is need to have various actors so that it can be effective. When different people, groups and social movements interact with the government and authorities, it is possible to drive change in complex processes. It is not the work of a single actor that will make change to be possible but it needs a combination of many efforts so that the nation can be able to fight corruption (Romano, D 2010).

Fighting corruption

Corruption in Kurdistan has been able to penetrate all the sectors of the society from the private businesses to the public education. Those businesses operating mostly the foreign companies are victims of the corrupt system. Corruption in this nation needs some eradication phenomenon and this requires some fundamental changes that should occur in the governance. The business managers should aspire to have change in the system and they should engage in implementing and developing strategies that are protective for their stakeholders and the enterprise.

The managers are supposed to apply a bottom up approach whereby they look at the informal practices and then build an awareness of the threats. By creating this awareness it will serve as a foundation for development and implementation of effective anticorruption strategies to the organizations. There should be an effective anti corruption strategy whereby those companies that conduct business with Kurdistan should provide the specifics of the industries; the regions in which they operate, the ownership structure the size and the age.

Instead of dealing with corruption as a whole there should be effective strategies which target strategies such as leasing company facilities for personal income or paying tax authority so that inspection can be conducted. When fighting corruption in organizations senior organizations should talk about preventing kick backs and conflict of interest in every meeting that they attend to with their employees.

They explain to the employees the actions that will be taken to people who participate in actions that are corrupt and there should be severe actions that should be placed on managers who are corrupt regardless of the results of their business even if they are senior political members. The democracy of Kurdistan needs to nurture whereby there need to be freedom of speech, there is need to have press freedom.

By having all this freedom they will be able to build trust within the community and bring back the community process back on the right track. There should be a system in the economics whereby they will agree on a framework where the vast oil revenues can be shared (Abdulla, J 2012). Every person is obligated to fight corruption. Actions to fight corruption can be taken by the government, organizations and also individuals whereby the state government should establish watchdogs over behaviors that are corrupt.

In organization they can include clear reference of the ethical principals in their mission statements, address how to prevent corruption and introduce the procedures and practices that will be used in order to prevent corruption from occurring. Individuals can try to end corruption by openly discussing the issue and encouraging the action of the organization. We should now that we are strong mentally enough to fight corruption and we should all unite so that we are able to end the error of corruption in the nation (Knights, M 2009).

Individuals need to be encouraged to acknowledge the interest of the public in their work; they need to reflect on the practices of their work and behavior. They should encourage the organizations to make sure that they enforce the policies for fighting corruption; they should learn to identify the conflicts of interest and share our experiences by having open discussion among the colleagues so that situations which can lead to having a corrupt behavior can be avoided.

Conclusion

Corruption is referred to as the private wealth seeking behavior of a person who represents the state and the public authority. Corruption is in terms of embezzlement which is considered as stealing resources by those people who are put in charge of administering them. This is a form of corruption because the public officials are allocating public resources inappropriately when the state official is stealing resources from public institutions where they are supposed to allocate the resources on behalf of the public.

What corruption brings to the society is that it instills a sense of hopelessness and it also threatens the strength the good values which have been established after having a long period of civilized struggle. People should not be afraid of the mistreatment, brutish response from the security forces or even harassment because the protest will be a better way to change the whole nation and an end to corruption. Challenging corruption within the government is not an easy task and this is because it takes different forms therefore people need to be mentally prepared and be extremely vocal when demanding for change.

Reference

Abdulla, J 2012. The Kurds: A Nation on the Way to Statehood AuthorHouse

Romano, D (2010). Iraq Kurdistan: Challenges of autonomy in the wake of US withdrawal Royal Institute of International Affair.

World Economic Forum (2009) Global Agenda Council on Corruption World Economic Forum

Knights, M (2009). ‘Managed Democracy’ Gives Way In Iraqi Kurdistan Policy Watch

Heyrsh abdulrhman is indepdnt political observer and researcher, former Deputy Representative & director of community Outreach for PUK and Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq. He is currently working as a political commentator and has written extensively on Iraq and Kurdistan for various papers.

  • KurdishMedia.com - By Heyrsh Abdulrhman
  • 12/05/2012 00:00:00