Iraqi ports experiencing many legal violations; thereby reducing their contribution to the government budget, compared to oil revenues, which dominates revenues by 97% of the size of the budget revenues.
The economic experts believe , that Iraq ‘s rentier economy made the reliance on imported goods a key , and most of them are smuggled , or forbidden, this except for goods exempt from customs, leading to a decline in fiscal revenue due to non – compliance with controls of customs tariffs by officials in the ports, which should be addressed especially that Iraq is going through a severe financial crisis.
The Iraqi border outlets reach 14 customs centers distributed between border outlets and free zones, which allows the entry of materials without collection of customs duties until they exit it , and most of these centers are land ones or free zones .
An official source in the Iraqi Ministry of Finance in Baghdad revealed the existence of operations of large financial corruption in the land border ports of the country with a number of neighboring countries, in another challenge facing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who said he gives the fight against corruption a top priority, and Iraq is linked in common borders with six countries: they are Iran, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Syria and Turkey, through thirteen border outlets , currently nine of them operate while the rest are out of work due to the security situations which are unstable now.
The border crossing points are suffering from the spread of the phenomenon of corruption and bribery, lack of field laboratories, modern refrigerated warehouses and proper rest stations , and devices and equipment necessary for the workflow , as well as stations of plant quarantine are not available in most of these ports , and all this is linked directly or indirectly to the financial and administrative corruption in Iraq, which is witnessing calls to stop the waste and corruption in the state ‘s resources at border crossing points, and the tightening of customs procedures , which are hampered by the control of mafias of ports that they did not miss a thing .
For example , in the province of Basra , the port where there is a sea port of Iraq to the world in addition to its borders with Iran and Kuwait, deputies of Basra called to investigate the «waste of public money and suspicions of corruption» in the collection of revenues of border crossings in the province
And the Parliamentary Integrity Committee called on Prime Minister Haider al – Abadi to intervene to stop the financial and administrative corruption at border crossing points, saying the corruption can not be eliminated without direct interference from him.
The committee member Haider Alfoada said that “despite the parliamentary and government committees which are formed to control the work of border crossings and the elimination of financial and administrative corruption, nothing was done due to the lack of control of these committees on the work of the ports.”
He added that ” the current situation requires from the Prime Minister Haider al – Abadi to intervene personally, adding that” there are bodies belonging to the political parties and blocs and tribal authorities impose its prestige on the border crossing points without the intervention of local governments to stop the theft of public money from the income of those ports. ”
A number of deputies from the province of Basra, toured some of the ports, who revealed that the revenues collection per month in one port reached 600 million dinars instead of four billion, noting that ” the official receipts for determining the proportion of collection at border crossing points, sold out of those ports.”
The head of the parliamentary security committee Hakim al-Zamili said that the security checkpoints set up between the provinces have become centers of corruption and extortion, noting that it is divided between the ruling parties.
Zamili in a statement after a tour of a number of checkpoints around the Iraqi capital said , «that corruption and bribery are spread in the border security checkpoints with neighboring countries as well as between the provinces», noting that the control of «Safira» point , for example, the return of bribes in which amounted a 10 million dollars a day ».
He added that the control of “al-Safira” customs located on the road between Baghdad – Kirkuk controlled by security leaders and influential elements, noting that the amounts expected from the point of up to about 400 billion Iraqi dinars, and no one knows where to go.
Sources say that A lease of the custom point reached per hour $ 30 thousand dollars, pointing out that the Safira point, which is called control of the “stock market” has become under the control of some security leaders and powerful actors in the province of Diyala.
Sources indicate that ” the daily imports of this point amounted of 200 million Iraqi dinars and the central government or the government of Diyala did not see any financial amount of them, even though previously 4500-6000 trucks were passing a day before the events of Mosul and the control of the organization (Daesh), but after the closure of the road the number of trucks that pass daily are more than 9500 large truck.
Sources say that the speculative disclosure of the Ministry of Planning to this point for the first quarter of 2016 amounted to 385 billion Iraqi dinars, in which the share of the province of Diyala 13 billion, and this amount is enough to build more than 13 schools with a capacity of 18 class with its accessories. ”
The sources show that corruption and control of a number of staff of customs on it and some security chiefs prevented the government and the province of Diyala to take advantage of these large sums of money, pointing out that corruption facilitated the operations of crossing of terrorist elements , specially that the car pass without inspection with a amount of US $ 1,000; making it easier to cross the explosive material from CIFOR and TNT, “this is a clear manipulation of the lives of Iraqis.
Eye witn ess confirmed a transit of shipment carrying 6,000 modern mobile device from the point, it was expected that the amount of customs obtained to reach 500 million Iraqi dinars, but crossed with $ 1,000 without inspection, noting that the point has been leased with 200 thousand dollars a month for some of the customs officers, whereas the lease is 30 thousand dollars per hour.
The sources said that the governor of Diyala, Muthanna al-Tamimi submitted the file of corruption at this point to the prime ministry which has not taken any action yet.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Security committee Hakim Zamili pointed out that preoccupation of the checkpoints officials with corruption and bribes, made it easy for trucks and vehicles to pass loaded with explosives that were exploded by terrorists in the cities, and allowed the entry of expired materials and sell them in the markets.
The official at the Directorate of Customs stressed that some of the staff at the checkpoints are paying large sums for their officials to put them in specific border points with some of the neighboring countries, in which they get millions of dollars a day in bribes in exchange for facilitating the transit of trucks loaded with materials and goods informally or indulgence in the calculation of the amount of taxes and fees on it.
He also stressed that the spread of bribery and corruption at border points reached degrees can no longer be easily eliminated because the corrupt have become influential mafias and backed by parties and militias, have caused great losses to the government by depriving it of substantial financial resources that can be obtained in circumstances where the State suffering financial hardship .
Parliamentary Finance Committee member Haitham al-Jubouri, revealed the loss of about eight billion dollars annually from the general budget because of the cases of “blackmail” and the introduction of goods informally through border crossing points, explaining that non-oil revenues wasted frighteningly, as the central bank sales volume amounted of $ 14 billion ; since the beginning of 2017 until 06.31.2017, covering imports of traders of goods and commodities from outside Iraq, the tax is calculated and well-known 3%; either customs starts from 5% to 300% on the goods and commodities, if we assume 25% customs+ 3 % = 28% of the total tax that is obtained from the ports.
If we calculated 28% of the $ 14 billion would be $ 3.8 billion, must be achieved during the first six months of the year, which means getting through the year seven and a half billion, and here the Iraqi government must take notice, that the figures obtained by Finance Committee, in the first period of the current year did not exceed 43 million, and during 2016 & 2017 only $ 400 million, where do those billions go? And who is the beneficiary? And Iraq is suffering a deficit budget and stifling economic crisis?
Al- Jubouri stressed; the existence of “influential individuals obstructing the investigation procedures, and the work of the Customs Authority.
Al- Jubouri pointed out that “corruption has become a scourge plaguing the body of border crossing points, including Um kaser al-shimali , both cases of extortion of traders or the introduction of goods informally, causing significant losses to the state budget estimated at more than eight billion dollars annually in those outlets,” and that “there is a detailed report written and distributed to the Presidency of the Council of Representatives and the heads of political blocs on the cases of corruption at border crossing points , supported by figures and documents. ”
Jubouri added , the “Presidency of the parliament decided to form a parliamentary committee to investigate, but there are some political blocs to put pressure on the Presidency to delay the work of the Committee and it was canceled, despite the achievement of significant results in the detection of corrupt and manipulators in those outlets,” referring to the collection of “signatures of 50 deputies within the legal contexts and it was delivered to the presidency of parliament since more than 45 days to re-activate the Committee, but the same scene was repeated and deliberately the influential obstruct its formation again because they are beneficiaries of what is happening to ports. ”
Al-Jubouri pointed out that outlet of Um kaser al-shimali is full extortionists and the corrupt like the rest of the ports, and that” there is pressure and attempts of bringing down practiced against us to lift our hand about file of the corruption in the ports, but we insist on the formation of a parliamentary committee to follow up on the matter and the collection of documents through which we can complete the investigation and referred it to the judiciary and integrity. ”
He stressed that “we have the full names of the corrupt in the outlet of Um kaser al-shimal and the rest of the ports as we have CDs and documents proving the corruption of those extortionists and counterfeiters and manipulators of public money,” and threatened to “disclose those names in front of public opinion and take the necessary measures to limit those cases and thefts.”
The Director General of the General Administration of Customs Kazem Ali Abdullah, announced on 21 March 2017, an investigation in the Department of investigation in Basra province to follow up on complaints of traders who said they were subjected to “attempts to blackmail and compromise”, calling on them to report about any problems they face.
This is the case of Iraq since 2003; and corruption is pervasive and endemic in state institutions, with weak government control and lack of staff trustees ability to prevent small and large corruption or bribes deals, because that cost them a lot of hostility and exclusion and perhaps personal targeting , and the Iraqi border ports are one of the doors of big corruption, according to government and independent reports, have led over the past years to the emergence of a class of “new rich” of officers, soldiers and staff, who took advantage of their positions and their presence in these sensitive places to get a huge money and big bribery , in exchange for the introduction of corrupted or prohibited goods legally, or Indulgence with some of the companies that pay them money in exchange for facilities they receive.
It does not appear that the problem of corruption in this vital economic establishments will be resolved according to political observers, analysts and economists , while the waste of Iraqi funds continue to coincide with the escalation of poverty and unemployment in one of the richest countries of the world, and that the elimination of corruption in the border outlets needs a bold decision of the government and the harnessing of all concerned bodies responsible for monitoring such as the integrity and financial control to counter the corruption mafias that have dominated largely on those ports, “and the general director of border ports” has to be bolder and more powerful to take measures to reform the imbalance and corruption existed in the border outlets and accumulated for several years ago. ”
Shatha Khalil, a researcher at:
Rawabet Center for Research and Strategic Studies