Wasta seen as main source of corruption in Saudi

National Anti Corruption Commission study encourages greater punishment for corrupt practices



Saudi Arabia’s National Anti Corruption Commission has said wasta, describing practices involving influential officials or family members, is the main source of corruption in the kingdom.

In a survey of 1,254 public sector employees and service benefiters in the Riyadh, Eastern and Makkah regions, the organisation found that corruption was among the most prominent issues for society along with drugs, terrorism, housing, unemployment and poverty.

Almost 63 per cent of public sector employees said wasta, or nepotism, was the most prominent issue for society followed by indifference (19.36 per cent) and bribery.

Embezzlement and forgery were ranked at the bottom of the list.

The survey found a lack of moral values and weakness in religious beliefs was one of the most prominent reasons for corruption in the public sector, followed by weak regulatory and judicial performance, outdated and complex administrative and financial regulation and a lack of transparency.

Almost 30 per cent of respondents said corruption occurred at middle management level, while 22.85 per cent said it occurred at the upper levels of management. Few believed corruption occurred at lower levels of employment.

Of those surveyed, 39.20 per cent said recently corruption had declined gradually, 19.68 per cent said it had risen and 19.92 per cent said it had not changed.

The commission recommended the adoption of measures to reduce nepotism, the use of awareness campaigns and greater punishments for financial and administrative corruption.

It also encouraged the establishment of more e-government services and annual surveys to identify weak points within public sector organisations.