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Wednesday, 4 July, 2001, 11:12 GMT 12:12 UK
How corrupt is your country?
Bangladesh is the most corrupt nation in the world, according to an organisation fighting global corruption, while Finland is seen as the least corrupt.
The annual survey of 91 countries by Berlin-based Transparency International revealed that perceived corruption among public officials and politicians has reached crisis proportions.
Poor nations in Africa and Asia are seen as the world's most corrupt, followed closely by many former Soviet states in Eastern Europe.
Peter Eigen, the company's chairman, believes that, "There is a worldwide corruption crisis.".
How bad is corruption in your country? Have you ever experienced corruption of any kind? Is it an inevitable consequence of public life?
This debate is now closed. Your comments:
Having left Russia for the UK, I am astounded at the difference in norms and practices between the two countries. True, there are scams and scandals happening in the upper echelons of the UK government, but this is child's play compared to the overwhelming culture of bribing and stealing in Russia. The mutual mistrust between the people and the once all-powerful "State" is ingrained in every Russian's consciousness. People steal from their offices and factories, and the Government steal their subjects' salaries and pensions, while the "Servants of the State", the bureaucrats, won't move a finger without a dollar note stapled to your application.
In Portugal, you do not see corruption in your daily life, like you do in most Third World countries, but we are still a society where "money and gifts" rule when you want to make your life a little bit easier. Twenty years ago you could influence a customs guard by paying him a bribe, but those days are long gone. Now things happen in higher ranks, and you will have to pay a dinner to the customs chief officer. Those below can get easily arrested if things don't work, but those on top are still a bit untouchable. But things are getting better, though. Another generation and these things will be a part of our past.
The corruption ranking makes a sad reading. Peter Eigen is very right when he says that there is a corruption crisis all over the world. The more man becomes materialistic, the more corrupt he becomes and the world society is moving exactly in the materialistic direction. Spiritualism applied to today's world, not dilution, is the solution to it, I believe. Let us at least bring up the future generation in that direction. In this context, I resolve to steadfastly do so in the case of my three year-old daughter. Let's work towards improvement; let's hope for improvement.
Here in the British Isles we tend to suffer from sporadic corruption -
the odd scandal involving brown envelopes of money; dubious
favour swapping amongst certain individuals of power; political string
pulling for friends and allies; and the occasional bent copper.
These dishonesties are perpetrated by people whose opportunistic
streak outweighs their sense of moral duty. Thankfully the consequences of these actions are usually minor - certainly we should be grateful that we need not endure the pandemic bribery that is necessarily a way of life
in less developed countries.
Ditto Mr. Osborne's comments. I am disgusted by "my generation" and our abject failure at correcting those very faults we protested so vehemently against.
Fermin-Fermon Torres, New Mexico, USA
I agree with everything Sinead had to say. Ireland must rate right up at the top for corruption, as the various tribunals are at the moment demonstrating. However to me the greatest scandal is that not one person will be jailed or even seen to be punished.
I was glad to see New Zealand third on the list not far behind Finland. We have dropped badly off the pace economically and now lie somewhere behind Ireland in that respect. But living in a wonderfully fair and open society where graft and corruption are almost unknown makes up for great deal.
Jessica Weinstein, US
The corruption in my country (Pakistan) can be assessed by this simple fact, that the most corrupt government department in Pakistan is the Anti Corruption Department.
I wonder why Transparency International ignored my beloved country India and caught our poor neighbour Bangladesh. We Indians have many scams to be proud of. As I type this comment, a former Chief Minister of a federal south Indian state has been arrested and remanded for an alleged corruption case by none other than a corrupted Chief Minister who is facing many graft charges and who was also imprisoned last year for corruption worth millions of rupees. Tell me which country deserve first place? Is it Bangladesh!
All governments are corrupt, however, in the UK we benefit from the fact that they are better at hiding it!
Democracy may have its corruptions, in the forms of lobbying, favours, etc. But at least in a democracy, such events are documented and recorded, so the evidence is there if anyone cares to look for it. Witness the Mandelson saga. Regardless of whether you think he was right or wrong, at least the evidence was there for all to see. As Churchill once said ' Democracy is a poor form of government, until you examine the alternatives'!
Our Government is very corrupt: "Shawinigate", vote fixing in Edmonton, MPs knowing who voted for who, it sums it up, and us taxpayers must pay the Liberal Party's legal fees!
In my country about 50% of my family's income has to be paid to the local mafia. My neighbour did not want to pay because he needed the money for medical treatment for his sick son. They cut off his finger and later they killed him saying he was Serbian spy. Me and my two brothers worked hard in Germany for more than 10 years. Now we have to give everything to the UCK and "goverment".
Russia is somewhere among African countries in that rating list. Russians prefer to settle things informally, among each other which is as much a source of corruption as the state servants' greed (or, more often, the need to survive - state wages are very low). That's why I believe that Russia needs massive de-bureaucratisation. People must be able to handle as much as possible themselves, because that's what happens anyway
On arrival at an Indonesian airport, I was informed by the customs official that you were required to have $1500 cash/traveller's cheques to enter the country (which I knew not to be true). Having threatened me with being sent back, he then suggested that I just put $50 inside the envelope, and that would cover it! The corruption culture persisted for the rest of the trip: to get any visa or permit, you meet with incredible slowness and obstruction, and miraculously a few dollars later, there are not longer any problems!
Having worked in almost a half dozen developing countries, I have come to grips with the seemingly never ending "fees" demanded by officials in all sectors and all levels (airport officials, immigration, police, etc). I now consider these as just the cost of doing business. Remember, the policeman or woman who shyly hints at a few extra Naira, Cedis, Birr, or whatever, probably hasn't been paid in months. I have seen the police barracks (family quarters) in most of these countries and they are deplorable.
I now consider the definition of corruption to be the winning of contracts for goods or services outside of the "normal" modes based on merit or lowest bid price, that is, through payment of bribes or favours. Granted, this is endemic in many developing countries too, but when this criterion is applied to the definition of corruption, how many countries in the "developed" world would keep their cherished position at the top of the heap?
In our country the representatives of the last dictatorship are FREE!!!
Kinoti Meme, Kenya
The word corruption is never used openly. "Put For Me" is demanded by force from the international airport to the last village in Sierra Leone. We see it as our right to augment our salaries. Without it, nothing will succeed. Talk about the dead still collecting salaries; talk about inflated vouchers; talk about the judiciary - my head aches.
I live in America. Enough said!
Corruption is caused by huge a disparity of (legal) income between government officials and those in the private sector. This is what causes India to be near the bottom of the list.
Cameroon has got to be the most corrupt place in the world. Airport officials even tried to tax me on a packet of French butter biscuits when leaving the country. Because I refused to pay the tax they confiscated the goods.
Benjamin Osborne, United States of America
It depends how you define corruption. Even the supposedly clean governments of the West aren't necessarily all they appear.
My own country of Ireland has to be the Oscar-winner for corruption. Not a week goes by without some huge scandal or another. Another strange thing is, the amount of our politicians with severe memory loss. In fact, when it transpired that so many of them had dodgy off-shore Ansbacher Bank accounts, that, they'd simply "forgotten" about, we began to refer to them as Alzheimers Bank Accounts!
Thanks to an often-maligned bureaucracy which seems to keep an eye on everything, not half as corrupt as it presumably could be. But I don't fear corruption in my country so much as that other cancer - a spirit of indifference fostered by a casual norm of mediocrity.
Mahesh Somani, Finland
It seems to me that corruption doesn't necessarily involve money, in it's more subtle, more English form, the currency of corruption can be "favours".
Corruption is endemic in democracy, the levels of both vary in various locations but these have coexisted "since time immoral". The aim is to have as much of the one as one can get without having too much of the other. Which is the one and which is the other is unfortunately not universally agreed.
Tommy Heltman, USA
Romania has to be one of the top ten most corrupt countries. My family was able to immigrate to Germany only after the German government paid for us (they did this with all ethnic Germans in Romania). This is nothing short of extortion.
My country is so corrupt that I can not buy one single item without dealing with the Mafia.
28 Jun 01 | Africa
Africans among worst in 'corruption league'
31 May 01 | Europe
Forum fights global corruption
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