| A Statement Issued by the Transparency International
(December 23, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) The South Asian Corruption Barometer released by Transparency International Secretariat in Katmandu today (22) indicates findings that suggest that corruption is still perceived a problem in Sri Lanka with some 49% of Sri Lankan respondents claiming corruption was on the increase while only 19% thought there was no change.
The new survey covers six South Asian countries published today by Transparency International, found that more than one in three people who deal with public services claimed of having paid bribes. In previous surveys of this nature, only Sub-Saharan Africa had a higher rate of bribe-paying.
The report, Daily Lives and Corruption, Public Opinion in South Asia, surveyed 7,500 people between 2010 and 2011 in Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The results help explain why the region is perceived to have some of the world’s highest levels of corruption, with none of the surveyed countries in the top half of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index(CPI), in which they all score less than 3.5 out of 10.
The Barometer is a survey that assesses general public attitudes towards and the experience of corruption in countries around the world.
South Asians regularly have to pay bribes when dealing with their public institutions, to speed up paperwork, avoid problems with authorities such as the police or when accessing basic services.
Political parties and the police are the most corrupt institutions in all six countries according to the survey, followed closely by the parliament and public officials. Officials entrusted to oversee deals related to buying, selling, inheriting and renting land were the next likely to demand a bribe.
In Nepal, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka, bribes were mostly paid to speed things up, highlighting how corruption can also be a barrier to business expansion. In Sri Lanka significantly more people paid bribes to tax authorities than other services, while in Nepal and the Maldives, customs service’s reportedly receive the most bribes.
“With bribery such a big a part of life for South Asians, you can see why so many people are angry at their governments for not tackling corruption. People are sick of paying bribes just to get on with their daily lives, and they are sick of the sleaze and undue influence of public servants,” said Rukshana Nanayakkara, Senior Programme Coordinator for South Asia at Transparency International.
The Sri Lankan component of the survey covered 1,000 randomly- selected respondents covering all areas confirmed conclusions of other studies that reflected a similar situation. The National Integrity Systems Assessment for 2010, the Transparency International Governance Reports of 2010 and 2011 as well as numerous other studies undertaken by other agencies show an alarming level of prevalence of corruption in Sri Lanka.
At a time when the country is embarking on an ambitious mission of development giving emphasis to economic development, depending greatly on foreign direct investment and the private sector, it’s of even greater importance that the state sector and its regulatory bodies function professionally adhering to high standards of ethical conduct. The public should also demand greater accountability, transparency if we are to realise the dream of the “miracle of Asia”.
Transparency International Sri Lanka feels strongly that without state agencies and those holding office being accountable, transparent and responsive, the dream will remain only a dream.