Efforts are underway to counter corruption in the public sector’s most problematic departments: the tax, customs and land and survey departments. A plan was recently finalised by the Council of Ministers.
The government’s agenda is to develop the departments’ processes and make them more transparent by minimising direct contact between the citizens and the public service officers.
For the Income Tax Department, the Council has made a number of administrative decisions to realise these goals. As anticipated, the corrupt launched an offensive to smear the reputation and integrity of Finance Minister Omar Malhas.
Their strategy, simply, is “offence is the best defence.”
This, however, shouldn’t deter the government or the Finance Minister from seeing this national priority through to its conclusion: to put an end to any and all sort of violation and corruption.
The Council’s decisions included numerous retirements and transfers. Unfortunately, much of the Council’s agenda hasn’t been made clear to the general public, leading some to unintentionally become accomplices in the defense of corruption.
Tackling administrative corruption requires an all-encompassing effort to clear the public sector of this phenomenon. It hurts the country as a whole, the state’s integrity and that of the public servant.
The stories we hear about corruption in the public sector vary. Some of them these stories are about minor, petty amounts of money. Others refer to stacks and stacks of money.
Meanwhile, there are cases involving millions of dinars in tax evasion and tax avoidance.
Clearly, allowing for issues like administrative and petty corruption to continue is not an option. Leaving the situation untackled will only result in the problems in these departments to fester and allow for the further infection of corruption to spread to other department as well.
If the corrupt public servant feels the noose loosening, or perceives that supervision and accountability has relaxed, it will only encourage them.
Of course, there are multiple ways to engage the problem. One way would be to pass the administrative and legislative procedures proposed by the Ministry of Finance on to the House of Representatives.
Another way to achieve significant reforms is substituting employee evaluation criteria with other more quantifiable ones per zone of service, reviewable every three years.
Either way, seeing this through to the end is not a choice, but a necessity. The corrupt lashing out is all but expected, and they will not be giving up easily.
The nobility of their endeavour to reform the public sector should only encourage them to fight for the greater good of all Jordanians.
A lot of money is going to waste every day. On top of that, reforming the public sector will help reclaim the values of respectable public work.
If Hani Mulqi’s government succeeds in their endeavour of administrative reforms, Jordanians will remember it forever.
This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.