Graft in Tunisia reaches 'epidemic' proportions

Graft in Tunisia reaches 'epidemic' proportions
Corruption in Tunisia has reached 'epidemic' proportions, the head of the national anti-graft body said on Tuesday, adding that it is costing the country some $891 million.
2 min read
31 August, 2016
Chawki Tabib said his agency has received 10,000 graft complaints since 2011 [AFP]

Graft in Tunisia has reached "epidemic" proportions, the head of the national anti-graft body said on Tuesday, adding his organisations received 10,000 corruption complaints since 2011.

The unity government that took office in the North African nation on Monday has made the fight against corruption a priority.

Prime Minister Youssef Chahed has also announced the abolition of a ministry previously dedicated to battling corruption to concentrate state resources on corruption watchdog.

Chawki Tabib, who was appointed to head the anti-graft body at the beginning of the year, took advantage of the presentation of a report at a news conference on Tuesday to urge firm action.

"We conclude that it has reached the epidemic stage, but an epidemic we can still tackle if all efforts are devoted to fight corruption" and if the premier follows through with his pledge, Tabib said.

"The barons of corruption who have infiltrated the state apparatus, the media and the ruling parties must be eradicated," he added.

And without naming names, he said the scourge also affects the judiciary.

Tabib said that experts had assessed the annual cost of corruption and poor governance in public contracts at "two billion dinars" (around $891 million).

"It is too much for our economy," he said.

Tabib called for strengthening the law, especially when it came to assets and conflicts of interest.

According to a recent study by the NGO Transparency International, more than two thirds of Tunisians believe that corruption has increased in their country in the past year.

Experts say state corruption under the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali who was ousted after the Arab Spring of 2011 has now given way to petty corruption in all areas of daily life.