Corruption Alarms Need Serious Measures

Dec 31 , 2022.

A change of guards in 2018 gave Ethiopians hope for better circumstances from the preceding unrest, with corruption as one of the triggering forces. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has addressed the Parliament after taking power that the country is facing an existential threat from corrupt activities due to the ineffective institutions that put the political structure in danger. He marked the deep-rooted corruption among officials. It would be wise to recall that earlier governments made similar promises.

The prevalence of corruption has sounded its alarm. The National Anti-Corruption Committee (NACC) was organised to fight the situation affecting the socioeconomic and governance structure in line with the government's campaign.

It did not take long after its formation to detain high-ranked officials in the justice system as part of an anti-corruption quest implying that the issue is deeply entrenched with shortcomings to curb it to the expected level.

The Transparency International Report in 2021 ranked Ethiopia 39th on the corruption perception index, highly exploited.

Government priorities are distorted by corruption. The issue is no longer behind the curtain but debatable on the extent of its effect. It has significantly affected society acting as an economic brake, with many losing their trust in public institutions through the process.

Corruption weakens the rule of law, leading to organised crimes and human rights abuses eroding the quality of life. It impedes the protection of the public interest and affects political and economic advances.

Illegal land transactions and decisions made in favour of corruption reflect the limitation of decision-makers. In countries with relatively weak governance driven by a new political reform or a broken-down administrative transition, it is apparent that state institutions fail to gain complete political legitimacy and operational capacity.

Recently, the Prime Minister addressed that the "corrupts should invest what they have taken", even though he has made his administration's top priority fighting against corruption. This happened following his statement in the Parlament that the red line that was put in place for corruption was turned into a red carpet.

Considering the extent, many refer to the transition period as a link for aggravation. The nation continued to experience pervasive corruption and worsening poverty. The pressure from the administration is hardly the case for controlling the momentum as the networked chain became dominant.

The bureaucracy is established with a class that benefits from corruption, malpractice, waste, and laziness to perpetuate the status quo. It has become intertwined with the political establishment in a web of networks, making overhauling it impossible. Disentangling the state structure from the party demands a significant amount of effort, insight, and patience. Nonetheless, it should be done as soon as possible.

Policy instability has also played a significant role in the practice of reaching this level. A system that tackles corruption monitors and evaluates the existing situation. Removing officials from their posts frequently, including a member of the Addis Abeba City Council and the Head of the city's Innovation & Technology Bureau among the ten officials from the city administration accused of tampering with the system and under investigation for alleged corruption, shows the degree.

In a similar situation, corruptions related to land-related cases are rampant. Institutionalized corruption is high, and businesses often demand facilitation payments and bribes while dealing with related issues.

According to the IMF, the share of the budget allotted to education and health in low-income countries is one-third smaller than in corrupt ones in state-owned enterprises, such as oil companies and public utilities.

On December 28, 2022, the Chief Auditor of the Federal Government, Meseret Damte, found loopholes in procurement, payment, tender, and allowance observed during the initial and follow-up audit of the former Chemical & Construction Materials Industry Development Institute, now the Manufacturing Industry Development Institute.

Based on the audit report, the illegal procurement worth of more than 1.2 million Br was not submitted, while the purchase accounting to more than one million Birr was not confirmed. More than 8.9 million Br worth of acquisition did not follow the legal system.

No country is immune to corruption. However, turning a blind eye only intensifies the situation. It is important to note that the most robust solution must come from measures towards reforming the system based on tested principles expediting efforts. Redefining the role of government is empirical.

Combating corruption needs perseverance, starting with political will, followed by ongoing institutional strengthening to promote honesty and accountability. Investing in high levels of transparency and external auditing enables the general public to provide effective supervision.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 31,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1183]

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