World Bulletin / News Desk
Ivorian Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan announced on Monday that the West African country loses 350 billion CFA francs (nearly $700 million) to racketeering every year, vowing to intensify government's efforts to fight the vice.
"Some 350 billion CFA francs ($700 million) destined for state coffers are lost every year due to racketeering and this is not normal," Duncan told a press conference in the commercial capital Abidjan.
Hike in food prices in the country of 22 million people has been partly blamed on racketeering at checkpoints by police, customs and immigration officers.
"They count the number of cows you are carrying and ask you to pay per head," Amidou Sani, a truck driver who transports cattle from Niger to Ivory Coast, told Anadolu Agency.
"This happens at several checkpoints," he fumed.
"Getting to our destination, we add up what we had spent at those stops and charge our buyers accordingly," said the trader.
Premier Duncan vowed stricter measures against the criminal activity along the major highways of the country, plied by trucks which supply vital foodstuffs from neighboring countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.
"We have already begun the fight to stamp out racketeering in the country but more efforts are needed to get there and so we’ll be intensifying necessary measures to get better results."
In November, the government established the High Authority for Good Governance to fight corruption at all levels of the country’s administration.
Its chairman René François Aphing-Kouassi, a magistrate and former minister, said his office had been tasked with exploring the structural causes of corruption and proposing appropriate measures to check them.
"It’s not a day’s job," he told AA.
"Corruption is deep in the fabrics of our society and so we need time to unearth the causes and work on measures to uproot them," added Aphing-Kouassi.
"Since our arrival, we have been able to make some progress, which basically is letting everybody know there is henceforth a monitoring bureau with an eye on what they are doing and that they can be brought to justice if they err," said the anti-corruption czar.
However, local observers say the Authority has been slow in action and has not brought any high-profile corruption case to justice.Last Mod: 29 Nisan 2014, 10:08