Government Corruption and Transparency
The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption; however, the government did not implement the law effectively,and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. The World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators reflected that there is a serious corruption problem, and aperception of corruption in every branch and level of government was widespread. Government officials and parliamentarians were presumed to benefit from insider arrangements and embezzlement.Procurement was a regular source of corruption in the executive branch. In 2006 the Central Organization for Control and Audit (COCA),the country’s investigative body for corruption, reported that between its creation in 1999 and 2005, COCA had investigated 518official cases of corruption, of which 361 were filed with COCAin 2005. The cases represented a loss to the treasury of 4.8billion riyals (approximately $24.7 million). At year’s end, of the 518 cases, 490 had been sent to the judiciary for action,and the remaining 28 cases were still under consideration.
COCA’s reports were rendered to the parliament but were not accessible to the general public. Only low-ranking official shave been prosecuted for corruption since COCA’s inception. The actual number of corruption cases was generally considered to be significantly higher than what was reported by COCA.
Petty corruption was widely reported in nearly every government office. Job candidates were often expected to purchase their positions. Tax inspectors were reported to undervalue their assessments and pocket the difference. Many government officials received salaries for jobs they did not perform or multiple salaries for the same job.
In 2006 the president ratified an anti corruption law, creating the first Supreme National Authority for Combating Corruption(SNACC), a new independent authority to investigate cases of official corruption. The authority includes a council of government, civil society, and private sector representatives.In June 2007 parliament elected 11 members to the SNACC, whose chair and deputy chair will serve a two-and-a-half-year term and can serve another two-and-a-half-year term, subject to SNACC consent, whereas regular SNACC members can serve only one five-year term. In July 2007 President Saleh signed a decree officially establishing SNACC and chaired SNACC’s first meeting. SNACC elected former Minister of Telecommunications Ahmed al-Anesi as chair and Sanaa University associate professor of political science Bilquis al-Osbo’a as deputy chair.In early June 2007 the local authority fired Director General of Taxes Hussein Ali al-Ameer, Director General of Public Health and Population Fadhl Muhammad al-Akwa’a, and Director General of Electricity Ahmad Sailan on charges of corruption in the Dhammar province.
The law requires a degree of transparency and public access to information, and the Press and Publications Law provides for journalists to have some access to government reports and information; in practice the government offered few procedures to ensure transparency. In 2006 parliament passed a law requiring public disclosure of government officials’ assets, and the SNACC worked to implement this during the year. The government provided limited information on Internet sites; however, few citizens had access to the Internet.