Govt to Clamp Down on Corruption at Umm Qasr Port

By John Lee.

The Prime Minister of Iraq, Mohammed S. Al-Sudani, has approved the recommendations of a committee investigating corruption in the Umm Qasr port.

The committee found that private companies operating at the General Company for Iraqi Ports were charging additional fees not approved by the Ministry of Transportation, leading to increased prices for goods and unfairly burdening citizens.

The Prime Minister endorsed the committee's recommendations, including referring the violations to the Commission of Integrity, capping charges collected by private companies, and preparing national staff to manage and operate the port.

The committee also recommended expanding surveillance and monitoring of port facilities, installing modern inspection devices, and conducting periodic reviews of outgoing goods information.

The full text of the Prime Minister's statement is shown below:

In continuation of the endeavors of combating corruption that comes as part of the government's priorities, Prime Minister Mr. Mohammed S. Al-Sudani approved the review committee's recommendations, which investigated the complaints and reports on allegations of corruption in ports, specifically in the port of Umm Qasr.

His Excellency ordered the formation of a special committee on December 15, 2022, to review and check these reports. The committee completed its work and submitted recommendations regarding port tax collection violations. The Prime Minister endorsed the recommendations and ordered the concerned departments to follow them.

The review committee recommended that the violations mentioned in its report be referred to the Commission of Integrity to investigate reports indicating that private sector companies operating at the General Company for Iraqi Ports are collecting additional fees other than those approved by the Ministry of Transportation. The importers were charged additional fees, and consequently, the Iraqi citizen had to bear the costs as the prices of goods increased.

The committee recommended that the Ministry of Transportation takes some measures to cap the charges collected by private sector companies to prevent increasing the prices of goods, drafting new contract amendment for partnership contracts with the private sector to ensure an increase in the share of the General Ports Company and the development of infrastructure. Otherwise, the contracts will be terminated according to the stipulated terms.

The committee also recommended not to renew partnership contracts with private companies whose contractual terms will expire and to take the necessary measures to prepare the national staff at the General Ports Company to manage and operate the port and address the issues of duplicated payment of fees for the same service, and to send a report to the office of the Prime Minister within 30 days, in addition to recommending not to renew the contract concluded with one of the private companies.

Concerning the work of the General Company for Iraqi Ports, the committee recommended that multiple gates be opened for trucks to exit and use electronic payment collection to avoid fraud. Also, providing information to the committee specialized in reviewing investment contracts and submitting recommendations to the office of the Prime Minister within 60 days.

As for the work of the Border Crossings Authority, the committee recommended expanding surveillance and monitoring of port facilities, observing the work of all departments, providing modern inspection devices to examine outgoing goods and scan the contents, installing surveillance cameras inside the docks and warehouses, extensive monitoring and investigating cases of duplicate fee payment and take legal action against the violators.

The committee also recommended conducting a periodic review of outgoing goods information with the Ports Authority, Customs, Taxes, and Port Administration, overseeing the security check devices by the Ministry of Interior and not relying on private companies in this regard.

(Source: Media Office of the Prime Minister)

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