Al-Monitor: Are political parties participating in this “festival of corruption”?
Nasrawi: There are political parties and politicians — as well as pervasive and influential people — all participating in corrupt deals. This is a known problem, it is no secret. You can see that in every province there is one prominent contractor who receives most of the contracts in the province — and he follows a certain political party. How can we interpret this? These contractors even have political influence over the province and its officials. It is no secret that a prominent businessman in Basra sat in on political negotiations to choose a governor and the local government. What is a businessman doing at such negotiations?
Al-Monitor: How are you fighting corruption?
Nasrawi: Our first step is to change all of the standards [for signing contracts] that help corruption become rife in our cities. This means concluding contracts and supervising them according to international standards, not according to the standards of corrupt government employees who sign [these contracts] under pressure, or as a result of blackmail or bribes.
We implemented this first step via [employing] a huge international company to manage Basra’s projects. We contracted Hill International for this purpose. What is painful is that — to this day — when I show a number of politicians and administrators the qualifications of this company, they don’t even know what these qualifications mean.
Al-Monitor: How is the company conducting its work now?
Nasrawi: An agreement was concluded, according to the conditions we put in place, to prepare a Basra 2040 strategic plan. This will include all of the city’s planning needs, such as the creation of a new commercial center, roads and services. Moreover, we will design one of the largest medical cities in the world. [Hill] has suggested to us a number of international companies to design and implement projects, according to certain standards.