ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Kurdistan Region’s Commission of Integrity on Thursday called on the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet to conduct major reform in the public sector and establish an anti-corruption council to combat graft more actively.
The Chairman of the Commission of Integrity, Ahmed Anwar, read the watchdog’s statement during a press conference in Erbil.
“We ask them [the KRG] to prioritize reform in the government just like they have outlined in their agenda,” Anwar said.
The new KRG cabinet’s mission, headed by Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, is considerably focused on conducting reforms and improving services to the people of the autonomous Kurdish region.
“We will combine our efforts against all forms of financial and administrative corruption, preventing the mismanagement of public wealth, and corruption within the Kurdistan region. We will achieve this by strictly enforcing the law of the Kurdistan region while supporting its official institutions, primarily through the Supreme Audit Divan and the Commission of Integrity and Public Prosecution,” one of the points from the KRG’s agenda reads.
Read More: An outline of the new KRG cabinet's agenda
Anwar told reporters on Thursday that the Kurdistan Region needs real reform in the public sector and needs to improve services more than ever.
“We request the new cabinet to establish a Baghdad-like anti-corruption council immediately,” he said, adding the council holds regular meetings with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi to discuss cases of corruption and necessary measures to tackle corrupt individuals.
The head of the Kurdish watchdog noted that they had also prepared a strategy with the help of a British agency to combat corruption in the Kurdistan Region, hoping the new cabinet approves it and adds their feedback to make it stronger and more effective.
“The insight of the strategy has key points that would considerably help the government’s reform agenda, should it be implemented,” Anwar added.
The Commission also stressed the need to dedicate a special court in the region to deal with graft.
“Having a special court dedicated for this matter will make the process of sentencing and combating corruption faster and will have an impact on officials who might think of corruption in the future,” he noted.
The watchdog also said it would send its application to the new KRG ministers and officials so they can reveal their income and finances to the commission following the confirmation of the new government’s cabinet.
According to Anwar, the commission had registered 231 corruption cases so far in the first half of the year, with a total of 495 cases under investigation, including incidents registered over the past few years.
He mentioned that in the first six months of 2019, after investigation, 72 of the cases had been sent to court to be ruled upon, 17 of which the courts had settled.
Anti-corruption efforts remain one of the primary calls from citizens in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.
Over the past few years, senior Kurdish leaders have repeatedly stressed that combating corruption is no less important than the fight against the so-called Islamic State.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany