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Media the Most Trusted to Fight Corruption in Nepal: TI

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In Nepal the media is the most trusted institution in the fight against corruption. In the rest of South Asia, it's either the government leaders or "nobody".

image003.jpgA new survey of six South Asian countries published on Dec 22, 2011 by Transparency International, the anti-corruption organisation, found that more than one in three people in South Asia who deal with public services said they pay 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, in which they all score less than 3.5 out of 10.

The report says that South Asians regularly have to pay bribes when dealing with their public institutions, be it to speed up paperwork, avoid problems with authorities such as the police, or simply access basic services.

The report further says that 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.

"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.

People prepared to fight corruption
While people across the region say the problem is getting worse, they are also likely to do something about it. 62 per cent of those interviewed believe corruption has become worse in the past three years. People from India and

Pakistan are most pessimistic about worsening corruption.

83 per cent of people declared themselves ready to get involved in fighting corruption. In India tens of thousands demonstrated for strong anti-corruption laws in August (see annex for more examples of people fighting corruption).

Less than a quarter of Indians surveyed thought their government's efforts to fight corruption were effective.

"Governments beware. People think corruption is on the rise and are willing to take action against it. In 2011 popular protests have sent a strong message to governments. They must respect the voice of their people and encourage citizen engagement," said Nanayakkara.

According to the survey, the country most plagued by bribery is Bangladesh where 66 per cent report paying bribes to public institutions, mostly just to gain access to services that people should already be entitled to.
Another common reason people cited for paying bribes was to avoid problems with authorities. Two-thirds of Indians,

Bangladeshis and Pakistanis who dealt with the police ended up paying 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 services reportedly receive the most bribes.

Key Findings
39% of people report paying a bribe in the past 12 months. The result was startlingly high in Bangladesh at 66 per cent, followed by India and Pakistan, with 54 per cent and 49 per cent respectively reporting having paid a bribe to one of nine service providers in the past 12 months.

62% of people feel that corruption in their country has increased in the past three years. This was felt most strongly in India and Pakistan, where three out of four people felt that corruption had increased over the past three years.
Government leaders were named as the most trusted to fight corruption by 38% of people.

Government leaders were named as the most trusted to fight corruption in Bangladesh, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. The media was the most trusted institution in India and Nepal (see page 16 of the report). In Pakistan the highest proportion of people reported that they trust 'nobody' to fight corruption.

81% of people agree that ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. People are especially positive in the Maldives and Pakistan, where 90 per cent and 89 per cent respectively agree that ordinary people can make a difference.

Some hope (a case from Nepal)
TI also noted that amid these poor indicators, there is hope. It has compiled some stories of successful fights against corruption from across the region. The following is a case from Nepal:

The regulation of political funding is a fairly new phenomenon in Nepal and the relevant rules were introduced only recently. Transparency International Nepal carried out research to evaluate them.

The research focused on examining transparency and accountability in the financing of the eight major parliamentary parties in the country. Compared with Bangladesh and Indonesia, Nepal had the lowest average score out of the three countries - with particular vulnerabilities existing in state oversight, reporting and the engagement of civil society.

Drawing attention to the findings, Transparency International Nepal has written to leaders of major political parties to initiate reforms on political finance. Our chapter recommended to the Speaker of the Assembly that the country's new constitution address legal loopholes and include state funding of political parties.


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