Success Story: The Anti-Corruption Commission's Response to MUSAWA's Vision of the Public Officials' Gifts is a Step in the Right Direction
Article (67) of the Civil Service law of 1998 states that “The following are prohibited for employees: (3) exploiting their office and their powers for personal interests or gains, or to directly or indirectly accept any gift or reward or grant or fees for undertaking their office tasks.”
Proceeding from MUSAWA’s oversight role over the national legislation and laws, we have read the Facebook post which Former Minister Shawqi Al-Ayasseh had published on 06/06/2018, where he raised the issue of the lack of legislation identifying how to deal with the gifts which public officials may receive by virtue of their posts. A clear mechanism should be in place to ensure that such gifts be deposited in the public treasury, explaining how they are being spent and how much they constitute of the overall treasury.
Proceeding from our vision that public officials must not accept any gifts what so ever, as it falls under the corruption umbrella, noting that such gifts would not be presented for public officials if they did not have their functional status, on 11/7/2018, the center sent the Anti-Corruption Commission, in its capacity as the competent and the authority responsible for fighting corruption, a memo in which it demanded legal action to be taken regarding depositing the gifts of public officials in the public treasury, and stressed the importance of implementing a system that deals with such gifts, in a retroactive manner.
On 12/8/2018, MUSAWA sent a reminder note to the Anti- Corruption Commission on the same subject, in which the center reiterated the importance of taking the necessary legal action in this regard, and cautioned against the absence of legislation that governs these gifts.
The Anti- Corruption Commission announces a System/Policy Proposal for the Gifts Presented to Public Officials
On 15/9/2018 the Anti- Corruption Commission in cooperation with the Ministry of Transportation, announced a proposal sent to the Prime Minister on the gifts presented to public officials. The Anti- Corruption Commission stated that this proposal is in response for “The absence of the clear legislative provision on the way public officials should deal with gifts presented to them that can put them in suspicions positions, and the way of providing security for public officials by familiarizing them with the procedures to be followed in such cases, in addition to the importance of establishing the civil service code of conduct and promoting respect for it, and for principle of integrity and transparency, and warning public officials from corruption and the seriousness of committing the offence of bribery, in addition to strengthening the national and international bodies’ trust in public officials through refusing gifts or reporting them in case they could not refuse them”. The proposal included issuing instructions by the Ministry of Finance, followed by issuing a resolution by the ministers’ council on considering those instructions to be disseminated and applied in all public units.
According to what is mentioned on the Anti-Corruption Commission’s website, this proposal reiterates the provisions of the Civil Service Law and the functional code of conduct, which state that it is prohibited for public officials to, directly or indirectly, accept any gift presented by any party in contact with the public unit. The proposal also clarifies the mechanisms and procedures that employees must follow in case they could not refuse the gift for any protocol, diplomatic, ethical, or moral standards.
MUSAWA gives positive consideration to the Anti-Corruption Commission’s adoption of our memo, and calls the ministry council to rapidly adopt and issue the instructions referred to in the Anti- Corruption Commission’s proposal, and to announce them to the audience including employees, provided that these instructions should cover the procedures of dealing with the gifts, counting them, listing them in the general budget, and clarifying the ways of using them for the public welfare, and to decide on penalties for abusing them. MUSAWA also demands the Anti-Corruption Commission to follow up with its proposal to ensure rapid adoption and execution, taking MUSAWA’s remarks on it into consideration. MUSAWA contributed to achieving this project by sending a memo in its regard to Mr. Prime Minister and the ministry council.
You can read the Anti-Corruption’s announcement here.