Young, poor and needy

Transparency International is a global civil society organisation, created in 1993 to lead the fight against corruption. Its mission is, quote “to create change towards a world free of corruption.” It is free from political bias, and, while not undertaking anti-corruption investigations itself, it supports organisations who do.

Transparency International defines corruption as “the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It hurts everyone whose life, livelihood or happiness depends on the integrity of people in a position of authority.” It is due to Transparency International is credited with bringing corruption on the agenda of organisations like the World Bank , The United Nations, The International Monetary Fund and many political candidates around the world, who “campaign on anti-corruption and good governance platforms.”

Transparency International Global Corruption Report (GCR) is an annual analysis of corruption. It includes a systemic reporting on the state of corruption around the globe. The Global Corruption Report 2016 is available online – I downloaded (PDF) and read through it last night, what an eye opener!

If you are a citizen of Albania, Cambodia, Cameroon, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania and Senegal, you have a one-to-three chance of being asked to pay some sort of bribery in order to receive service, while only 2 out of a hundred in Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland would be expected to oil the wheels of civil service. (South Africa is in the respectable fourth quintile, with only 2 – 6% of respondents saying that they paid a bribe to obtain a service.)

If you are poor and young you have an increased chance of being expected to fork out some kind of bribery, the cruel rule of thumb – says the report – is that “those who earn less must pay more often all over the world.” (p.4) If, in addition, you are seeking help from the police or the judiciary, you’d better have some funds available, because police and the judiciary emerge as leaders in bribery seekers world wide, followed by registry and permit services. Generally speaking, respondents believe that political parties, parliament, the police and the judicial/legal system are the most corrupt institutions in their societies. Most also believe that their government’s efforts to fight corruption are ineffective.

Is the problem growing or receding? The report finds that, worldwide, it remained the same between 2006 and 2016, with decreases in Asia-Pacific, EU and South East Europe countries and growth in Africa and Latin America. Looking at key institutions, worldwide, is a depressing sight – between 30 and 70% of respondents reported that these institutions/ services /organisations are corrupt or extremely corrupt: Political Parties, Parliament/Legislature, Police, Business/Private Sector, Legal System/Judiciary, Tax Revenue, Media,

Medical Services, Utilities, Education System, Registry and, Permit Services, the Military Religious Bodies and NGOs. Politicians lead the corruption list, with almost 70% and NGOs close the list, with just under 30%, right behind Religious Bodies. In addition, more than half of respondents worldwide expect the level of corruption to increase to some degree over the next three years. Most pessimistic countries are India, Philippines, Senegal, South Africa, Netherlands and the United Kingdom (70% and higher), while citizens of Ghana, FYR Macedonia, Kosovo and Nigeria believe that corruption in their countries will in fact decease in the next few years.

The bottom line, according to the report, is that “corruption affects ordinary people everywhere regardless of where they live or what they earn” but (surprise, surprise!) if you are young and poor, needing police assistance, life seems much more complicated – keep a few extra notes in your pocket, just in case. Chances are that you’ll need them.

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