By Henry Ridgwell – LONDON — Corruption and bribery are perceived to be getting worse in many countries, and trust in governments is falling worldwide, according to a survey by the group Transparency International.
The Global Corruption Barometer 2013 paints a bleak picture. One in every four people paid a bribe in the last 12 months when accessing public institutions and services, according to Transparency International’s report.
Robert Barrington is Executive Director.
“In terms of bribe paying, there are a couple of countries where three in four people say they have had to pay bribes in the past year. That’s Sierra Leone and Liberia,” said Barrington.
Transparency International interviewed 114,000 people in 107 countries and found that more than half believe corruption and bribery has worsened in the last two years.
Again, Robert Barrington:
“Ultimately our target has to be policymakers because leadership from the top is critical in this. And when you look at the countries that have improved, perhaps Georgia and Rwanda compared to past surveys, it’s generally been politically-driven governments that want to do something about corruption that’s made the change,” he said.
All too often a leader’s drive to tackle corruption fades, says Bertrand de Speville who heads an anticorruption consulting firm that has advised more than 50 governments.
“It suddenly dawns on him that that might affect colleagues, friends, political allies, family, maybe even himself. And time and again I’ve seen the light of that political will die while you’re talking to him,” said de Speville.
In India in 2011, social activist Anna Hazare gained worldwide fame after leading a hunger strike against corruption.
“I want the poor to get justice. I want the money back that we have lost to corruption,” said Hazare.
Hundreds of supporters joined him in the hunger strike, and the government agreed to introduce anti-corruption legislation. But the so-called Lokpal Bill has yet to be passed.
De Speville says the poor suffer the most – and bribery must be tackled on every level.
“You only have to think of the fields of security or public health to realize the truth of that. One small bribe can have disastrous consequences,” he said.
But, says de Speville, advice on tackling corruption by institutions such as the World Bank have had little effect.
“Given the amount of resources that have been devoted to the problem, in my view, it is little short of scandalous. I don’t believe it is that difficult. And indeed, places like Hong Kong and Singapore have demonstrated that it’s not that difficult,” he said.
Transparency International says those surveyed appeared eager to take on corruption themselves – with more than half of respondents saying they would be willing to report an incident of bribery.