17 July 2021
Opening Session: 10:00 - 11:00
Point conference-Iraq sessions were launched by holding the opening session at 10:00am on Saturday, 17th July, 2021, with the participation of a group of speakers who are: Dr. Kadhem Al-Sahlani, a researcher, an academician, and the one who headed the secretariat of the Higher Commission for Coordinating among Provinces during the current government, Mr. Maher Mohammed, an expert and adviser of transparency to the Center for International Private Enterprise and Mr. Mohammed Raheem, the Head of Al-Nahrain Foundation for Supporting Transparency and Integrity, While Dr. Ali Taher Al-Hmoud, the Executive Director of Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies was the facilitator of the session.
The interactive session began by inviting speakers to go on the stage by the interviewer Dr. Ali Taher, the Executive Director of Al-Bayan Center for Planning and Studies who was the facilitator of the session that said: "Are we on the path to reformation in Iraq? specially that we are in a session of evaluating the ministerial program in general, since all of us know that the government has faced challenges, including Corona Epidemic, reduced oil prices, and more than 64 assassinations of activists and journalists, at a time in which the protests are still happening in the country, imposing serious challenges to the government, which its program is formed from 7 axes and 30 points, we are asking about the extent of the success of the government in this field".
Talking about Decentralization in Iraq, Dr. Kadhem Al-Sahlani said: "to start, I'm honored to participate for the second time in Point Conference, and I think that 3 different bodies presented indicators of the government performance in which the rates are different, it would be better if those bodies cooperated with each other to present a comprehensive report, indicating that: "the most important problems in Iraq is that we criticize the situation generally, and give unrealistic solutions for them. The body who is responsible for that is the intellectual elite, since the rejection and refusal of the public usually affects social media websites, thus, the problems stay unsolved without presenting remedies or solutions to identify the crisis.
Al-Sahlani indicated that: "The government is not satisfied with transferring the ministry and its powers to the provinces, bringing the governorates in a spiral with ministries and what worsened the problem is the presence of governorates councils, although the performance of governorates councils are negative in distributing powers and functions, this culture of each province administrates its affairs requires training and qualifying employees, who are unqualified in managing large files affairs between the transferred directorates from the central government and the governorates".
"Al-Sahlani" added that: "Iraq is a country of impunity; files opened for accountability and transparency do not exceed 10%".
- About the difference between the governorates of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region in managing the internal affairs of the governorates and achieving transparency, "Al-Sahlani" said: The Region have more opportunity than the rest of the provinces in the management of self-policy. All parties are responsible for the settlement of Iraq in general. Even if they were political and international forces and organizations, looking for radical solutions requires sacrifices by every party.
Dr. Ali Taher asks Mr. Maher Mohammed a question on the axes of administrative reformation and government direction toward border crossings and fighting corruption, increasing transparency and what results are achieved?
In response to the question, Mr. Maher Mohammed said: "The border crossings were the main reason for the transparency issue regarding the financial affairs and funding sources. The only governorate which revealed the financial disclosure of the governorate and funding sources is Wasit. While petrodollar amounts constitute a continuous point of conflict between the Central Government and local governments so that they do not give these powers to the governorate".
About the role of organizations in fighting against corruption, Mr. Maher Mohammed said: "In Iraq, freedom of expression is not available and those who express facts are vulnerable because of freedom of expression despite the existence of civil society advocacy campaigns in this regard."
He considered that "the most successful thing carried out by civil society is to demand amending laws and instructions issued by the ministries, as he stressed that civil society is a neutral body that discuss and seeks to improve the legal environment, indicating that Iraq is still one of the unsafe countries in freedom of expression and corruption. We, as civil society organizations, are ready to improve this environment by ensuring freedom of expression".
About the imbalance in achieving transparency in Iraq, Mr. Mohammed Raheem said: "during recent years, since the government of Al-Abadi and until the present time, several meetings were held. Among the Transparency International Organization, Federal Commission of Integrity and civil society organizations, there are 13 national transparency indicators to be applied, 5 of which are applied on Iraq. Thus, there is a qualitative improvement that began to respond to those international indicators in order to achieve progress and improvement in the issue of impunity, media and freedom of expression. Iraq declined to rank 160 in Transparency International because of a declaration of a representative of receiving amounts of money publicly. "
He pointed out that: "Institutions were built on what we call the cover of quota, patronage and nepotism that dominated for decades in ministries.
The governorates councils have caused wasting large amounts of petrodollars by holding fake contracts under the names of the sons or brothers of the officials".
"Raheem" added that: "Beauty centers, restaurants and banking companies rose to 2000 companies after the entrance of Isis, most of which are money laundering projects, which reveals that the corruption system is dominating on many things in the country".