By Ayman Adly/Staff Reporter
Effective legislation and transparency regulations should be issued and enforced to tackle the different forms of corruption that impede progress in many countries, stressed parliamentarians participating in the 7th Global Organisation of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) Conference which opened in Doha Monday.
The first plenary session of the conference discussed the topic of promoting good governance stepping up with UN Sustainable Development goals 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions). The session was moderated by John Hyde, secretary of GOPAC, in the presence of delegates from different countries.
The panellists were Giorgi Kaldiashvili, member of the Open Partnership Steering Committee; Dr HM Azis Syamuddin, vice-speaker of the house of representatives of Indonesia; Dr Carlos Alberto Perez Cuevas, chairperson of GOPAC Latin America; Majida Alfallah, Board member, Arab Region Parliamentarians Against Corruption (ARPAC); and Abdullah bin Fahad bin Ghorab al-Marri, Member of Qatar Shura Council.
Kaldiashvili pointed out that corruption is a global challenge that should be combated on all levels through the collaborative efforts of stakeholders. He said the Open Partnership Steering Committee is a multi-party initiative interested in issues related to good governance and the implementation of accountability. The committee, which had only eight member states when formed in 2011, now has 79 member states. It looks into the best practices in the fight against corruption and spread them for the benefit of all countries. He also talked about some of the successful experiences in the field in Georgia, Croatia and Paraguay.
Syamuddin reviewed the impacts of corruption in slowing down the efforts to maintain progressive development in countries and the need for parliaments to keep open links with the people and listen to their voice and demands through a modern transparent system.
Cuevas talked about the high levels of corruption and bribery in different countries of Latin America, which undermines the trust of people in their governments and administrative systems. A considerable percentage of the people there believe they have to pay bribes to government officers at different levels to get access to the services they are legally entitled to.
In some countries of Latin America, such as Venezuela, people even think that corruption is getting worse. Accordingly, he stressed the need for change in Latin America and politicians should take the initiative in the fight against corruption starting with transparent and fair elections and voting systems to arrive at giving people easy access to the necessary public services while keeping effective tools to continue the fight against potential forms of corruption and bribery.
Alfallah said that in Libya people are struggling to create a democratic nation that sustains good governance, and fight corruption that have long impeded the progress of the country, while representing all sections of the society within the new government to make decisions that reflect the will of people.
In the meantime, al-Marri said that the failure of governments and people's representatives in fighting corruption in the parliaments' halls have lead people to the streets to demand so, entailing massive risks of chaos and loss of lives and property. He suggested that parliaments should work in harmony with governments rather than clash with them.
"We in Qatar are confident about the measures taken by the government and its departments in protecting against the harms of corruption and penalising the corrupt," he said, pointing to the successful experiences of Qatar in the field stressing that this could not have been achieved without the wise and good policy of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in governance.
Al-Marri talked about the role of parliamentarians in fighting corruption by putting the necessary legislation and legal frameworks and follow-up their enforcement.
The delegates from different countries thanked Qatar for hosting the conference and giving them an open platform to exchange their views and experiences on such key issues for progress.