President Ghani Tackles Corruption at the National Conference of Religious Leaders (Olama) – Moving Towards Integrity Project

President Ghaniolama large Tackles Corruption at the National Conference of Religious Leaders (Olama) – Moving Towards Integrity Project

September 1, 2015, Kabul — Harakat – Afghanistan Investment Climate Facility Organization and Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) launched the National Conference of Religious Leaders (Olama), which was a part of Moving Towards Integrity Project on Tuesday in Kabul. The goal of this project is to engage with religious leaders and other influential members of the public to raise awareness about corruption and encourage action at the grassroots level to counter it by using direct outreach and mass communication channels such as public forums, radio, television, social media, website. The Conference was a key part of this endeavor. Mohammad Ashraf Ghani, the present of the Government of National Unity of Afghanistan participated in this conference where more than 400 religious scholars from across the country took part. In his speech, president Ghani strongly condemned corruption and called for a “national jehad” to fight the cancer that has gripped the country. He added: "If corruption turns into an organized phenomenon it becomes like a "cancerous lesion" that can threaten the essence of the nation." He urged the religious leaders, the Olama, to work with the government to counter corruption. President Ghani said that the driving sources of corruption include: procurement contracts, property deeds informality, mining, narcotics, customs and nepotism in the government. Increased security problems have adversely impacted the pace of reform in these areas, he noted, but the government has made progress in bringing reform to other areas such as procurement. More reforms are being implemented that will have an impact in curbing corruption. As a specific measure to counter corruption, President Ghani announced that the government would begin formalizing the property deeds within weeks. If properly implemented, this move will positively affect the ordinary citizens and the general economy by bringing informal property deeds into the formal economy. Despite a number of anti-corruption measures implemented in recent years, systemic corruption imposes serious costs on the private sector and the Afghan public, which was worth $3.5 billion in 2012, according to one survey. In 2013, Harakat started a dialog with key stakeholders in the private sector and civil society to explore actions to be taken to counter the growing scope of corruption. 2 "Moving towards Integrity" which is implemented by IWA in coordination with the Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs (November 2013 – September 2015), is one of the steps by Harakat. During the life of the project, the following activities were conducted: • A dedicated website (www.efshagar.af) was developed and launched where confirmed cases of demand for bribes are reported online from across the country. • Established a call center that receives reviews and records reports of corruption by the public from across the country. • A book (Fighting Corruption as per Islam) to fight corruption from Islam’s perspective has been developed by a team of leading religious scholars. Five thousand copies of it in Dari and Pashto have been distributed among stakeholders in 34 provinces. • An Islam and anti-corruption booklet consisting of 200 questions and answers has been developed, published and shared with students of religious institutions in nine regional hubs. A total of 1,500 booklets were distributed to students and libraries. • Trained 2,700 religious scholars in nine regional hubs through 90 workshops to raise awareness about corruption and encourage action to counter it in their communities by viewing corruption from the prism of Islamic principles and practices during Friday sermons and other gatherings. • Held a competition on Islam and Anti-Corruption to promote integrity among 210 religious school students. • Developed an integrity promotion campaign on television, radio and billboards. • Anti-Corruption cartoon and essay competitions were conducted among Kabul University students. About Harakat: Harakat is an independent, nonprofit, Afghan-managed organization that aims to improve Afghanistan’s business environment. It provides grant funds to government, civil society and the private sector to implement projects that will reduce or remove barriers that currently make it difficult to do business in Afghanistan. Harakat started operating in May 2008 with a $50 million fund. It has funded the implementation of 36 projects so far. To learn more about it, please visit: www.harakat.af Contacts: Baktash Musawer, Communications Officer Mobile: 0093700 660 564 Email: info@harakat.af