Prime Minister Najib Mikati called Monday for combined efforts by all state departments to stamp out rampant corruption in the public administration, saying the government would draw up a comprehensive plan to deal with the endemic problem which previous governments had failed to solve. He promised that the government would not protect any violator.
“Fighting corruption is not confined only to official departments. It is an integrated action between state institutions and its administrative and financial monitoring agencies and the productive sectors and civil committees,” Mikati said during an expanded meeting he chaired at the Grand Serail to review policies and agreements signed by the Lebanese state to fight corruption.
“Fighting corruption requires a comprehensive plan which the government will work out in cooperation with all [parties] because what matters is to reach practical results which will not be difficult to attain if efforts are combined in a salvation plan,” Mikati said.
BEIRUT: He added that if interference by political leaders in the past had protected corrupt officials, the government would not shield any violator.
“The government will not protect anyone who facilitates the continued chaotic situation in [state] departments and institutions. Monitoring bodies are called upon to do their jobs fully, especially since their officials enjoy immunity that enables them to play their roles impartially and neutrally,” Mikati said.
The meeting was attended by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel; Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi; State Minister for Administrative Reform Mohammad Fneish; MP Ghassan Mukheiber, head of the Organization of “Arab Parliamentarians against Corruption,” Judge Saeed Mirza, acting president of the Higher Judicial Council; Khaled Qabbani, head of the Civil Service Council; George Awad, head of the Central Inspection Department; and Arkan Siblani, the regional director of the U.N. Development Program.
The prime minister stressed that fighting endemic corruption in the administration amounted to “a national workshop” that cannot be confined to one party.
“Everyone is called upon to participate in [anti-corruption efforts] in order to undermine any attempt that leads to the proliferation of the phenomenon of corruption,” Mikati said.
He added that the damage of corruption does not differentiate between pro-government and opposition citizens.
“The damage [of corruption] touches the components of the entire state which protects the rights and safety of both pro-government and opposition citizens and puts the administrative institutions at their service without discrimination,” Mikati said.
Fneish, Hezbollah’s minister whose ministry is tasked with cleaning the public administration from corrupt employees, said: “The meeting was one of the very important meetings to confront the rampant corruption. All the participants prescribed the causes of corruption. There was agreement among all [participants] that accountability is required.”
Qortbawi from MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement warned that corruption has become almost a policy followed by all the people.
Elaborating on Monday’s meeting, Qortbawi said: “We have tried to be realistic. We first acknowledged the presence of a big problem in Lebanon. It is a problem of corruption that exists at all levels whereby corruption has become almost a policy followed by all the people and has entered the society in such a way that it is difficult to remove it from our daily customs and our lifestyle.”
He added that the decision to stamp out corruption has been taken. “Corruption cannot be turned into a prevailing policy in our society,” Qortbawi said.