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“It is a well-known fact, that, immediately following the closure of public project auctions, the bidders on the losing side often complain, , usually acting the part of whistle blowers. In the beginning, we intervened, halting the process and opening an investigation on the spot. In most cases, these investigations turned up no evidence of procedural irregularities and ended up being a waste of time. Now, what we do is observe auctions while they are in progress: this way we can make sure that regulations and procedures are being followed properly. In the end, we have discovered that this greatly reduced the number of complaints.” The speaker was Ali Suleiman, the Commissioner for Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption, who made this statement during the 6th annual gathering of the National Anti-Corruption Executive Committee. The meeting was held last week at the Hilton Hotel in Addis.
When the commissioner spoke of his vision for the future, his focus is on the 21 million students across the country; “The future belongs to the students: if they act against corruption, that will be the end of it.”
Asked about the property of public officials that was registered by the Anti-Corruption Commission which has not been disclosed to this day, he responded that they are developing a plan to release such information into the public domain in the future. “Presently, we are not entitled to disclose the registered property of officials to the public. The aim of the registration of these properties was to create a database which will be useful in the sense that it serves as a reference when we receive tip-offs. Therefore, the registration wasn’t originally done to release information for public consumption. “As a database it is invaluable,” Ali reiterated.
Capital has learned that some countries, like Singapore, have a practice of registering the property of the entire population. In contrast to the above, Kilimanjaro International Inc. (a New-York based Company), which had won the Ethiopian government’s bid to conduct a survey on corruption in Ethiopia and was funded by the World Bank, completed a survey made public at the meeting. The objective of the survey was to identify the state of corruption in Ethiopia since the first survey was done ten years ago in regards to transparency and accountability of public officials and institutions in the carrying out of their activities. The survey found that there is a clear difference between perception and reality vis-à-vis corruption. “People say that there is wide-spread corruption in this or that office. When they are asked for verification or evidence of an incident, few are able to present one. In most cases, when investigations were carried out, it was difficult to get proof. The results indicate that the proportion of respondents asked for kickbacks was minimal, and business people were more likely to be asked than professionals and everyday people. “This shows that there is a big disparity between what we perceive and reality,” said Genzebe Semaw, who presented the findings at the Anti-Corruption meeting.
Officials at the Anti-Corruption Commission said that there has been significant reduction in the instances of corruption in the last ten years. “In the 2011/2012 budget year, close to 12 million birr and plots of land which were appropriated illegally were recovered by the commission. This is a big achievement,” said Asmelash Wolde-Selassie, chairperson for the day, at the Executive Committee’s 6th annual meeting.
At the start of its second decade since its inception, the Federal Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission is clearly poised to play a significant role in the fight against corruption.