When was the last time our Congress acted like this?
They're not even concerned when the Pentagon loses
billions of dollars.
Iraq MPs ask hard questions on parliamentary cash
By Michael Georgy 37 minutes ago
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi lawmakers refused to vote on
parliament's 2006 budget on Saturday, saying the
chamber meant to spotlight government corruption had
failed to provide transparent records on its own
In an extraordinary session, parliament's finance
committee failed to win backing for a 110 billion
dinar budget as it faced a barrage of questions on
everything from millions of dollars spent on furniture
to conference budgets.
"What do you mean by extra services? We want a full
explanation in the national assembly," said
parliamentary deputy Hanan al-Fatlawi.
The grilling came ahead of an October 15
constitutional referendum and elections in December
that Iraqi leaders hope will ease deep sectarian and
Iraqi officials have warned that corruption is a major
threat to the future of a country already overwhelmed
by an insurgency that has killed thousands.
Iraqi leaders have been promising to clamp down on the
misuse of funds since a U.S.-led invasion toppled
Saddam Hussein's dictatorship in 2003.
But newspapers report corruption scandals almost every
week, angering Iraqis who see greedy officials
squandering money meant for reconstruction and
improvements to services after decades of war and
economic mismanagement under the old regime.
Lawmakers raised questions that keep coming up in a
chamber that Iraqi leaders and their American
supporters say will uphold democractic principles in
Mahmoud al-Raadi reminded the finance committee that
the state was obliged to divulge expenses of all
officials who travel abroad and demanded that
parliament provide a list of officials who make trips
and their expenditures.
Some lawmakers have said the assembly should focus on
alleged corruption under former interim prime minister
Iyad Allawi involving millions of unaccounted dollars.
Iraq is expected to issue an arrest warrant soon for
Allawi's former defense minister Hazim Shaalan in
connection with the disappearance of more than $1
billion, according to a corruption investigator.
MP Ali Dabbagh asked the finance committee to provide
details on millions of dollars spent on conferences.
"There will be no voting today. The budget is not
complete and its articles are not clear. We believe
that it needs lots of clarifications," he said.
Adnan al-Janabi, a member of the finance committee,
urged lawmakers to focus on the 2006 budget, not
spending in the current year.
But MPs seemed determined to track all cash flows.
"How can we vote when we saw nothing of the last
budget?" asked lawmaker Mahmoud Othman.