Poor hard-hit by bribes globally
The poor are burdened with more bribe demands than the rich amid global financial crisis and it appears as a double punishment to the poor, says Transparency International's (TI) Global Corruption Barometer 2009.
“Across the board, low-income respondents were more likely to be met with bribe demands than the high-income respondents,” said the barometer prepared on the basis of responses of 73,000 individuals drawn from 69 countries.
The barometer, a global public opinion survey, released by TI yesterday says over half of those polled believe the private sector uses bribes to influence public policy, laws and regulations, and the government efforts to combat corruption are generally perceived as ineffective, in addition to high levels of perceived corruption in political parties, parliaments and the civil service.
Although Bangladesh was not covered by the survey, the findings of the barometer in many ways reflect the situation in the country, especially impact of corruption on the poor and the powerless, role of the private sector as the supply side of corruption, said Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB).
Petty bribery was found to be on the rise in Venezuela, Ghana, Indonesia, Cambodia Bolivia, Senegal, Russia and Kenya, compounding the already difficult situation of low-income households, as jobs and income dwindle in the economic downturn, the TI barometer said.
“These results show a public sobered by a financial crisis precipitated by weak regulations and a lack of corporate accountability,” said Transparency International Chair, Huguette Labelle.
“But we also see that the public is willing to actively support clean business. What is needed now is bold action by companies to continue strengthening their policies and practices, and to report more transparently on finances and interactions with government.”
The business-related findings of the barometer send a powerful signal to the private sector and provide yet another incentive--in addition to the legal, reputational and financial risks of corruption--for companies to prove that they are clean and to communicate this clearly to the public.
In Cambodia, Hong Kong, Liberia and Sierra Leone, as many as 4 in 5 respondents said they would pay a premium for products and services from corruption-free companies.
Asked specifically how corrupt they perceived different domestic institutions to be, half of respondents said they saw the private sector as corrupt, an increase of eight percentage points over five years ago.
And in roughly a fifth of the countries and territories surveyed, including countries home to some of the world's major financial centres, such as Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland, respondents identified the private sector as the most corrupt institution.
“Companies must engage meaningfully with the reporting frameworks and anti-corruption codes now available and begin applying these in earnest, reporting clearly and honestly about their efforts, and benchmarking their policies and practices,” said Robin Hodess, Director of Policy and Research at TI.
Only three in 10 respondents believed their government's efforts to fight corruption were effective, although opinion in Sub-Saharan Africa was notably more positive than in other regions.
Fewer than one in four who paid a bribe in the past year lodged a formal complaint, demonstrating serious deficits in the perceived legitimacy and effectiveness of institutions and channels for controlling corruption.
Echoing the findings of past editions of the barometer, 68 percent of respondents saw political parties as corrupt, and 29 percent saw them as the single most corrupt institution in their country. The civil service and parliament trailed political parties, perceived by 63 and 60 percent of respondents respectively as being corrupt.
The media, while not perceived as clean, scored best with just over 40 percent of respondents labelling the sector as corrupt and with only six percent seeing it as the single most corrupt domestic institution.
“New this year was the increasingly critical view of the private sector and a public motivated to pay a premium for clean business. The 2009 barometer makes clear that both the private and public sectors have a great deal of work to do to win back the public trust,” the barometer said.