- After years of hesitation, the Senegalese government is now seriously considering firm steps to combat what President Abdoulaye Wade has called a "disturbing level of corruption" in the country. The judiciary could be asked to oversee all public expenditure, according to one plan.
According to Abdoulaye Bio-Tchané - a senior officer at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Benin's ex-Minister of Finance and Economy - the IMF is now negotiating with the Senegalese government on how to curb the country's widespread corruption.
- In our discussions on Senegal's programme, said Mr Bio-Tchané, "we are exploring how the public expenditure management system could be overseen by the judiciary and then reported back to the parliament - which would be a first in Senegal."
Mr Bio-Tchané, who has headed the IMF’s African Department for the past two years, made particular note of the discussions in Senegal when giving an internal IMF interview regarding corruption in Africa. The efforts to "improve transparency, efficiency, and accountability in budgetary management and in the judiciary" were now gaining momentum in most African countries, Mr Bio-Tchané said.
The Wade government has hitherto been observed to fail to take strong action against corruption, despite the fact that Mr Wade had made the fight against corruption one of his main election campaign issues in year 2000. Recent reports seem to indicate that corruption indeed has become more widespread under the current administration.
Only last year, the level of corruption in Senegal was mapped by a survey made by the Dakar subsidiary of Transparency International (TI), a Berlin-based organisation engaged in the worldwide fight against corruption.
TI's Dakar subsidiary, Forum Civil, found that close to 90 percent of those surveyed acknowledged that corruption was widespread in Senegal's public sector and among politicians. They also held corruption has a high cost both for Senegalese enterprises and for society in general.
The findings drew a sharp reaction from the Senegalese government. President Wade accused Forum Civil of being "closet politicians who do not have the courage to accept their responsibilities." He also called into question the credibility of the survey and rejected its conclusions. However, only months earlier, in a speech to the Swiss private sector, President Wade acknowledged the existence of a disturbing level of corruption in Senegal and again committed himself to combat it vigorously.
Senegal has been intensifying its cooperation with the IMF during recent years, and the government therefore has been urged to look more closely into corruption by the Fund. Good governance and transparency of public expenditure are among the basic requisitions to receive IMF assistance.
Therefore, only some months ago - when the IMF had approved Senegal's US$ 33 million poverty reduction programme - the Fund again urged Dakar to act on corruption. Eduardo Aninat, IMF Deputy Director, said that, following their negotiations, the Senegalese government now was to "strengthen expenditure controls."
Mr Aninat further urged the Dakar government it strengthen "accountability and good governance in the public sector." The Senegalese were "encouraged to vigorously implement the public expenditure management reform." The details on this reform, aimed at fighting corruption, are now being negotiated in Dakar.
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