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Iraq MPs ask hard questions on parliamentary cash

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  • Greg Cannon
    When was the last time our Congress acted like this? They re not even concerned when the Pentagon loses billions of dollars.
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2005
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      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
      political divisions.

      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
      the new


      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.
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