Saudi Press Roundup
I am fully confident that the impact of the fall of the patrol prices on the economy and development is lesser than the impact of rampant corruption and abuse of public funds. It is same if the oil price is $100 or $40 a barrel. There is no real difference between them if the expenditure is not controlled and public funds are not protected.
The report of the surveillance office, which said that SR41 million was spent unlawfully, makes us closer to the real picture of the danger of corruption. These millions could help achieve many development goals, regardless of the price of a barrel of oil in world markets.
It is not a secret that these embezzled funds were just the tip of the iceberg. It is difficult to cover all the circumstances around tenders, transactions and projects by the various regulatory agencies with conflicting powers, without making a real deterrence against corruption.
We are passing through a phase where the oil price has dipped to $40, which means that the income has gone down to half during the last few years, but commitments remained the same. The priority should be to move toward combating corruption and fight against misuse of public funds. Bad management evaporates millions of riyals unlawfully as has been described in the report of the surveillance committee. This is how any step taken for austerity and controlling the expenditure will become feasible in real sense and will have larger credibility.
If there is a strong will to fight against corruption, in all its manifestations, whatever its source is, we will find that oil at $40 per barrel level today is better than its being $100 in the recent past. We can achieve development goals, which would outweigh the ones we were achieving during the time of financial abundance, but were obstructed because of the greed of corrupts. Best policy of austerity and protection of public funds lies in the fight against corruption, if we want to fulfill all our plans.
— By Khalf Al-Harbi, Okaz
Checking Iranian ambitions
WE know that Iran has biggest stock of ballistic missiles in the Middle East. It enjoys superiority in terms of numbers as is in the case of Israel. But the latest missiles were more capable than those possessed by Iran.
Iran has tested a long-range ballistic missile, which should be seen as a real challenge for the international community. The launch of the missiles and its testing sends negative signals to the countries of the region. Similarly, it tests the international community’s resolve to face Iranian excesses due to early nuclear deal. The Vienna convention prohibits Iran from developing and testing these types of missiles, which is superior to “Shihab 3” which can carry nuclear warheads.
The missile test was conducted a few days after the Iranian Shoura endorsed nuclear agreement signed between Tehran and group of five plus one, amid international condemnation. Presumably, the Security Council is seriously considering such violations, which is creating more tension in the region, which is already unstable.
Iran should be made answerable for the missile test, which was carried out three months after it made commitments that it would not conduct such tests. Such breaches threaten the nuclear agreement, as has happened in the case of North Korea.
Preserving the balance of power in the region is very important. Any act of upsetting this balance would push the countries of the region to take own measures for their protection from their rivals. This makes the group of five plus one internationally responsible.
It is necessary that we should stress the need for an American commitment for developing a joint ballistic missile defense system with the Gulf countries, as deterrent against threats from Iran and others.
— By Ayman Al-Hammad, Al-Riyadh
Of retirement and pension
THE topic of my article this morning does not need further explanation and dragging. But we need to fill in the blanks of this space. We have some far away villages and people in intensive care rooms who have not heard the news of the month that the Shoura Council has loudly said that the pension scheme will not be able to fulfill its obligations to the beneficiaries after six years from now. The 9 O’clock bulletin needed my comment on the scandalous report. I replied: Simple…. we transfer hundreds of thousands of riyals to the social security. What concerns me about the prominent screaming news is silence. I did not read any answer or comment on this report till writing this article. Sometime, I say that perhaps there were interactions and responses. But I am wrong, because I read three newspapers and three websites.
Let us check some facts: We pay ten of our salaries during 40 years of our service in this institution. Statistics say that one third of the retired person does not use their salary more than three to seven years. Then why this institution reached to the stage of bankruptcy despite that the one third of the heirs of the beneficiaries were closer to the social security than the pension money of the dead person. If I would survive after eight years from now, and at the moment of my retirement, any of my wife, daughters and sons would never take any single Halala from my 10 salaries, which were deducted by the pension office for 40 years. Then whey there is any bankruptcy. Why this frightening silence?
— By Ali Saad Al-Musawi, Al-Watan
Uncovering forged certificates
THE problem of forged certificates is raising its head again. The engineers’ body has announced that it has uncovered 16,000 forged engineering degrees, out of total 200,000 degrees in the Kingdom. This is a huge figure and it is a matter of extreme concern. This proves that the job market in the Kingdom is targeted by fake degree holders. It is worth pointing out that in the Kingdom there are more than 10 million foreigners. How many of them have forged degrees and where they are working actually? If there are eight percent engineers in the Kingdom with forged degrees then it means that there are 800,000 workers in the Kingdom who are not qualified for the jobs they are doing. How many of them work in the medical, law, media, accounting and teaching professions. These are professions, which have huge impact on society.
The seriousness of the issues is not confined to just the matter of degrees or certificates or incapability. Most of these people are foreigners who are preventing qualified nationals to be recruited on these positions. They are also preventing those who are actually qualified in their own nationalities. The non-qualified people agree on low salaries keeping the people who have real degrees away from the job market. Therefore, it is important to face such a situation with full resolve.
The engineers’ body made a system with international organizations, which work in the area of verification of educational degrees from their sources. These organizations are the most trusted ones. This is why this body has registered all professional engineers who come from 80 countries of the world. The engineer candidate sends all his required documents, particularly educational certificates and passport to the international company with which the engineers’ body has a contract. The company contacts the university to verify the qualification of the candidate. This practice should be followed in other professions as well, particularly in medicine, law and accountancy.
Haj and its experiences
Haj is a season, which we see every year in the country of the same gaovernment and same people who consider that it is their duty to make this season successful and to protect it from accidents or whatever that can disturb it.
They always repeat that serving Haj pilgrims is an honor for them because they feel that Allah has given them this honor and selected them for this job, which is highly respectable.
People of this country from ages have been doing this service every year for Haj and offering whatever possible services with the highest standards possible. They are all happy with what they have been doing and they would do so always. Whatever means and patterns they found in the world to manage human gatherings, they learned it. Whatever was possible for them to implement at the holy sites they did. This has been happening since Haj began. They inherited it from one generation after another. Every time they become more capable of organizing this annual event with the experience of ages.
This country has presented its wealth and efforts of its people, which everybody knows was to seek honor of service of Haj pilgrims every year. They never demanded any return for these services.
The visitors to the two holy cities always feel astonished to see huge development projects, which have no other objective but to serve pilgrims. Not only this, people of these two cities, who loved to live where they were living, moved far away happily and willingly for these projects.
This is just because they see that their value compared to other Muslim nations was more. There were some accidents during Haj season. They made lots of efforts to minimize their impact. Some of their Muslim brethren participated in causing the accidents during Haj, because of their lack of awareness and sometime lack of knowledge. Some efforts to harm this country and its people also cannot be ruled out.
— By Abdullah Farraj Al-Shareef, Al-Madinah
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view