By Wassim Bassem for Al Monitor. Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.
Probe blames corruption for imports of bad food, medicine in Iraq
Iraq’s parliament is investigating allegations that corruption and fraud at border crossings involving “influential entities” have led to an influx of contaminated food supplies and expired or counterfeit medications into the country.
“Spoiled medications and food supplies come into Iraq. Large quantities have been confiscated. This [scheme] is backed by influential entities,” Noura al-Bajari, a member of the parliamentary Economy and Investment Committee, told the media Feb. 23. “This is the result of corruption in the Border Crossing Authority.”
“Lethal food supplies have come into Iraq through the Umm Qasr border crossing in the south,” Abdel Salam al-Malki, a member of the same committee, told an Iraqi TV network Feb. 19.
Magued al-Gharawi, a member of the Security Committee, agreed, telling Al-Monitor, “Widespread incidents of fraud and manipulation are taking place at border crossings as trade cartels and lobbies affiliated with influential politicians control the process of smuggling expired medications and food supplies that are not fit for human consumption in exchange for undisclosed commissions paid to officials at specialized checkpoints.”
Shipments of medications and food supplies aren’t subjected to in-depth oversight or quality control at the crossings. When inspections are done, they are “carried out in a superficial manner that aims at covering up the corruption,” Gharawi said.
“These goods find their way to the market quite easily, as the number of health and security oversight examinations at shops and storehouses is small and they are bypassed through commissions and bribes. The citizen who deals with such hazardous material is the victim, as most of the time they never find out about the health impacts,” he added.