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Strengthening good governance in Egypt

Anti-corruption mechanisms exist but regulations are inadequate or underutilised, says new report

Major corruption loopholes are jeopardising Egypt’s attempts to combat the problem despite the existence of a broad range of anti-corruption laws and regulations, according to a new report released today by Transparency International (TI).

The report, National Integrity System study Egypt 2009, assesses Egypt’s governance system including the executive, legislature, political parties, the judiciary, anti-corruption agencies, non-governmental organisations and the media. It identifies areas of weakness and presents recommendations to strengthen existing legislation.

“In Egypt, the essentials for good governance are in place but in order to uproot corruption, existing rules and regulations need to be applied and legal provisions enforced,” said Omnia Hussien, Programme Coordinator at Transparency International.

In recent years, Egypt has introduced a series of laws and bodies to strengthen governance and accountability. This includes the Ministry of State for Administrative Development’s Transparency and Integrity Committee and the ratification, in 2005, of the UN Convention against Corruption. Egypt is still in the early phases of establishing e-government, though such services for individuals and businesses have developed positively since their introduction in 2006. The political will to combat corruption is reflected in the Egyptian Cabinet’s resolution No. 24 of 2007, which lists the objective of fighting corruption high on the government’s working agenda.

Nonetheless, significant challenges remain. Major areas of concern identified in the report include conflict of interest, political interference in the work of anti-corruption agencies, a lack of effective whistleblowing mechanisms, weak enforcement of laws and regulations, a lack of transparency and access to information, coupled with excessive limitations on civil society freedoms and the media.

“Closing the gap to ensure corruption is prevented will require the concerted efforts of government, business, civil society, media and international institutions,” said Hussien. “When the agencies and mechanisms in place have enough capacity, resources and independence, corruption can be tackled effectively.”

Key Findings:

  • The Constitution, laws and regulations, as well as various anti-corruption entities provide a sound framework for the functioning of an effective NIS but they are often not used to combat corruption.
  • The judiciary is perceived to be one of the least corrupt and most independent public authorities in Egypt.
  • Potential conflicts of interest in government appointments and in links between prominent politicians and the business community have been identified as an issue of concern.
  • Whistleblower legislation is in place but under-utilised because there is little guaranteed legal protection for those that expose corruption.
  • Laws governing access to public information are weak and government limitations on civil society organisations prevent them from operating freely.
  • Despite laws to hold the executive accountable before Parliament, these are not commonly exercised.
  • Petty corruption in law enforcement is reportedly common.
  • Anti-corruption agencies are generally seen as effective, but need to be shielded from political interference.

TI defines a National Integrity System (NIS) as the key pillars in a society that contribute to integrity, transparency and accountability. The report, which was compiled by a team of Egyptian academics and experts, analyse the system’s strengths and weaknesses along with the effectiveness of national anti-corruption efforts. This analysis is undertaken via a consultative approach, involving the key anti-corruption agents in government, civil society, the business community and other relevant sectors.

The NIS study in Egypt was carried out by an independent group of local experts and scholars including six academics from Egyptian Universities. TI introduced the concept of NIS assessments in 2001. Since then it has carried out more than 70 worldwide. In 2010, TI will initiate NIS studies in 23 European countries. A regional report covering Morocco, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt will be released in spring 2010.

Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

Download the Executive Summary Arabic, English
Download the full report Arabic, English

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Dalia Hamed, Managing Director

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