Tunisia OKs law to fight widespread corruption

Tunisian prime minister Youssef Chahed. (AFP)
Updated 19 July 2018
0

Tunisia OKs law to fight widespread corruption

  • Tunisia’s anti-corruption committee says graft is still widespread and threatens Tunisia with billions of dollars a year in losses
  • The penalties for illicit enrichment include fines and five years’ imprisonment

TUNIS: The Tunisian Parliament on Tuesday approved a law to combat illicit enrichment, a step designed to strengthen the government’s fight against widespread corruption in the country.
Since the 2011 uprising, Tunisia has been held up by Western partners as a model of democracy for the region. Economic progress has lagged, however, and corruption remains a major problem in the North African state.
The law will force the president, ministers, senior officials in the public sector, independent bodies, banks, judges, security forces, journalists and unions to declare their property.
“The law is a revolution because it will allow the national group to scrutinize the unknown wealth that has been acquired illegally,” Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said.
The parliamentary speaker, Mohamed Naceur, said the law “is another step in efforts to fight corruption, ensure transparency and preserve public money.”
The penalties for illicit enrichment include fines and five years’ imprisonment.
Last year, the government confiscated the property and froze bank accounts of about 20 prominent businessmen arrested on suspicion of corruption in an unprecedented government campaign against graft.
Chafik Jaraya, who maintains political contacts in Tunisia and Libya and helped finance the Nidaa Tounes ruling party during the last elections in 2014, was among those arrested last year.
He is in jail awaiting trial. His lawyer has said the charges are politically motivated.
Tunisia’s anti-corruption committee says graft is still widespread and threatens Tunisia with billions of dollars a year in losses.
It added that corruption had spread in all sectors including security, public tenders and health.


Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival. (AFP)
Updated 30 min 15 sec ago
0

Trump: Turkey making ‘terrible mistake’

  • Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt
  • A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump

ISTANBUL: The lira weakened against the dollar on Tuesday after US President Donald Trump said he would give Turkey no concessions in return for the release of a detained American pastor, the latest salvo in a worsening rift between the NATO allies.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Trump criticized Ankara over the detention of the evangelical Christian pastor, Andrew Brunson, and said he was not concerned that his tough stance against Turkey could end up hurting European and emerging market economies.
Brunson, who is originally from North Carolina and has lived in Turkey for two decades, has been detained for 21 months on terrorism charges, which he denies. The pastor has become an unwitting flashpoint for the diplomatic tension, which has accelerated the crisis in the lira.
Trump said that, after he helped persuade Israel to free a detained Turkish citizen, he thought Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan would then release Brunson.
“I think they’re making a terrible mistake. There will be no concessions,” Trump said.
The lira weakened to 6.0925 against the US currency by 1111 GMT, from a close of 6.0865 on Monday, when Turkish markets began a holiday to mark the Muslim Eid Al-Adha festival that continues for the rest of this week.
Trade was thinner than usual and probably mainly offshore, with local markets closed for the holiday. The currency has lost 40 percent of its value against the dollar this year. However, selling on Tuesday was limited due to a broadly weaker dollar.
Turkish government officials did not comment on Trump’s remarks when they spoke after prayers to mark the start of the festival.
Devlet Bahceli, leader of a nationalist party allied with Erdogan’s AK Party, told reporters: “We have no business with those who love Brunson more than us.”

Prayers and gifts
Erdogan, who had been expected to speak to reporters after morning prayers, made no public statement.
He has repeatedly cast the currency crisis as an attack on Turkey but has stopped short of singling out any one country.
He prayed on Tuesday morning at a mosque near the tourist resort of Marmaris on the south coast and then handed out gifts to local children, the Milliyet newspaper reported.
He also spoke by phone to soldiers stationed near the border with Iraq, sending them greetings for Eid Al-Adha.
“I believe that as long as you stand tall our flag will not fall, our call to prayer will not fall silent and this homeland of ours will not be divided,” the Hurriyet newspaper reported him as saying.
On Monday, he appealed to Turks’ religious and patriotic feelings ahead of the holiday, promising they would not be brought “to their knees” by the economic crisis.
Turkey has demanded that the US hand over Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and who Ankara says orchestrated a failed coup attempt, but Washington has balked at this.
A Turkish court last week rejected Brunson’s appeal for release, drawing a stiff rebuke from Trump. The US president — who counts evangelical Christians among his core supporters — has said he would double previously announced tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum imports.
On Monday Turkey initiated a dispute complaint with the World Trade Organization over the tariffs.
Separately, ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday that tight liquidity amplified risks for Turkish companies.
Another ratings agency, DBRS, said European banks with Turkey exposure face a manageable capital impact.
Underlining the increased diplomatic tensions between Turkey and the US, the US Embassy in Ankara came under gunfire on Monday. Nobody was injured and Turkish authorities later detained two men over the incident.