Friday, 19 February 2016
Global Corruption Experiences: Case Study of 6 Counties
Retail corruption has been embedded and deeply set in the fabric of society plaguing and obstructing function and service to the public. Its pervasiveness throughout developing, and in some cases developed, nations makes tackling retail corruption a challenging and tedious issue to overcome. There are many variables, which are able to affect the way retail corruption manifests itself, and we can analyze it by looking at through two sides: Supply, and Demand. The supply side of the issue formed by legal and procedure loophole, consisting of the lack of monitoring systems, punitive action and accountability, which provides fertile ground for corruption. The social and monetary cost to change, which persuades civilians to continue acting upon the ‘bribe culture’, varies from nations making retail corruption a unique situation for each case. The absence of alternative methods to access public services and presence of human interface when these transactions take place, further allows corruption to manifest itself. The Demand Side of the issues looks at the Willingness to Pay due to the perception of red tape, or a lower opportunity cost. There is also a learned helplessness present in the attitude of the society where the lack of alternatives instigates the idea that paying a bribe is necessary.
In order to better understand what variables are important in the manifestation of corruption, we have broken down the variables in two main categories: Governance and Transparency. Governance provides us insight into how public institutes function within the country and to operationalize it, we have divided governance into three main variables: Bribe Culture, Structure, and Distance from Power. Inefficiency in governance is strongly linked to corruption, in that when public institutions do not perform their designated function, a lack of trust is created by the public towards the authorities. Bribe Culture varies greatly as the hierarchical pressure to accept or pay a bribe is different in every country either for its cultural or political disposition. There is also social and economic cost of change for fighting petty corruption in countries. Some countries may have a higher economic or social cost if they fight corruption versus others therefore making it more challenging to overcome the culture. The regime type of a government is of great importance in order to understand how decentralized a system is. Centralized government structures formulate a monopoly for public services, allowing it to exercise a large portion of power, leaving a lack of alternatives that reinforces the learned helplessness present in society. Distance from Power is important in understanding how approachable are public officials to civilians, and how much control they can exercise over the public.
Transparency encompasses the creation of laws, policies and actions that are easily available and transparent to the public. This ensures that public officials and civil servants act visibly and report on their activity. Transparency is divided into two main subgroups: Monitoring Systems, Accountability. When there is a lack of transparency in the system, there is a creation of asymmetrical information, and it reduces accountability, which incentivizes corruption. Monitoring systems of a country need to be utilized in order to stop corrupt practices from taking place, allowing legal action can be taken against perpetrator. Efforts such as setting up an Anti-corruption bill or organization, or getting assistance from external, international sources to monitor the country. Accountability pertains to the obligations entrusted to institutes with public resources to be answerable for the fiscal, managerial and program responsibilities that have been given to them. It is necessary that the public entities that utilize public resources have an obligation to account for the way these resources are allocated, used and the results these spending have achieved.
Sierra Leone, a West African country, has a historically turbulent and conflict filled history, and almost after 10 years of the brutal civil war (1991-2002) the country’s rebuilding efforts continue to face major challenges of weak governance, widespread poverty and systemic corruption. Despite its past turbulence, it was successful with its political transition from civil war to a budding democracy that has conducted two peaceful post war elections. It is a resource abundant country and its economy relies heavily in mining of natural resources available such as diamonds, gold and bauxite. The Human Development for Sierra Leone has increased from 0.276 from 1970, to 0.374 in 2014, which is a major improvement but still falling under the low human development category. Around two-thirds of the country’s population lives in poverty. Until the 2014 Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone was on the path to become a reformed state through key reforms in infrastructure, private sector development and job creation. The Ebola outbreak threatened to push the country to a humanitarian crisis as well as a negative economic spiral.
Sierra Leone is a constitutional parliamentary republic with three levels of government: central government, local councils and chiefdom councils. The Local Government Act 2004 is the legal framework for the effective running and administration of local councils and is currently under revision to reflect the 2010 national decentralization policy. It makes provision for the re-establishment of local councils as they existed before 1972 when they were suspended. Even with the efforts of decentralizing the government there is a pervasive ‘bribe culture’ present. It is ranked a 31/100 on Transparency International corruption perception index, making it an extremely corrupt country. Even with hotline setup to complain against corruption very few people have called. The “whistle blower concept” is relatively new and civilians are scared of the repercussion and victimizations, which happens when somebody reports on corruption. Sierra Leone has a large informal sector of governance due to lack of trust and cooperation from the formal one. The informal sector is as important as the formal one in Sierra Leone, making the social and economic cost of ending corruption very high. However after the 2007 peaceful change of government that brought President Ernest Bai Koroma into power, there are some positive indications of an emerging political will to address corruption and governance challenges in the country.
According to Global Integrity 2009, the legal framework to fight corruption is in place, with the anti-corruption law rated “very strong” in the latest iteration of the analysis. The country enacted its first anti-corruption law in 2000, which created the Anti-Corruption Commission, tasked with probing corruption cases both in the public and private sectors. The Anti-Corruption Act was revised in 2008, giving the ACC prosecutorial powers and strengthening its investigative capacity. The new law eliminated the need for the justice minister and the attorney general to approve each corruption prosecution. The amendment also added new crimes for indictments and increased penalties for some corruption offences.
The creation of the Anti-Corruption Commission shows that Sierra Leone has been improving its monitoring systems in place. There are many different departments in the ACC, such as the Commissioners Office, which is responsible for the administration of the Asset Declaration system of the government. There is a Report Center, which hears all the complaints of the citizens and other government agencies and then refers to them to the appropriate department within the ACC. The Public Education and External Outreach focuses on raising public awareness of corruption and that they demand ethical treatment from public officials. They promote ethical actions from citizens and teach them not to engage or facilitate in corruption methods, which may be used against them. The flip side of this is that the Commission remains thinly staffed, and mainly pursues high-level officials meaning that there is not enough staff fighting the petty corruption happening in day-to-day life for the public. This risks gradually losing the publics support, as they don’t see improvement in their daily lives. Another issue faced by the ACC in Sierra Leone is the lack of resources and space, which prevent it from hiring additional members. The Commissioners have hired experience staff but they could use additional training the latest methods of investigation and research techniques.
The accountability of the government has slowly increased with their efforts in decentralization and institutes set up to fight corruption, however transparency is still a huge problem to tackle, as during the war many important public documents were destroyed and the elitist behavior found in society makes it a challenging task. According to Freedom House 2010, there are no broad provisions to promote public access to government information, reducing accountability. While official information - including sensitive information such as financial disclosure forms - is published on Internet sites to some extent, it is often incomplete or not updated on a regular basis. In addition, many citizens lack Internet access only 0.2% of the population accessed Internet services in 2008, in spite of at least five separate Internet providers operating in the country.
The country has done a lot of reform in terms of reducing corruption such as decentralizing the government, implementing laws against it, and setting up better monitoring systems. However the learned helplessness, lack of access to information and resources and elitist hierarchy makes overcoming petty corruption a significantly more difficult challenged to overcome.
Guyana, a sovereign state in South America, gained independence from the UK in 1966 and became a republic in 1970. It has a very unique demographic, with majority being descendants of East Indians, around 40 percent being descendants of African slaves brought their to work on sugar plantations and the remaining a mix of Amerindians and Europeans. Persistent tension between the two major groups has fuelled political instability and is reflected in hostility between the two major political parties – the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and the People National Congress (PNC) - are ethnically and racially polarized. Guyana boasts a rich ecology, but has one of South America’s poorest economies, due to mismanagement of natural resources, which created serious economic problems and led to a fall in an already-low living standard. The country’s economic development has been challenged by a shortage of skilled labor, infrastructure deficiencies and, until recently, sizable external debt. However even with serious economic and racial fractures existing in the country it scored a 0.638 on the Human Development Index, which is contingent for a median level of human development.
Guyana is ostensibly a parliamentary-style democracy with a constitution, a National Assembly, a multiparty system, elections, a president chosen by the majority party, a minority leader, and a judicial system based on common law. Despite its democratic institutions, Guyana has seen more than two decades of one-party rule and strongman politics, perpetuated by manipulation, racially based voting patterns, and a disenfranchisement of the Guyanese people. Although there is little data and research available on the country’s state of governance in context of corruption, all major governance indicators suggest high and deteriorating levels of both bureaucratic and political forms of corruption. Ubiquitous throughout the streets, bribe payments are a constant and almost necessary hindrance for the Guyanese people, especially within the GPF (Guyanese Police Force). Many reports and complaints have been made against aggressive and inhumane behavior embodied by the GPF. Transparency International assigned Guyana a score of 30/100 for the Corruption Perception Index, which is indicative of an extremely corrupt system. Levels of both petty and grand forms of corruption are likely to be greatly influenced by the size of the informal economy in the country, which is estimated at between 30 and 50% of GDP by the US State Department
The law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption. Several laws cover various aspects of corruption, including the Integrity Commission Act, the Fiscal Management an Accountability Act, the Audit Act, and the Criminal Law Enforcement Act. Implementation of these laws is reported to be uneven due to institutional weaknesses, criminal justice inefficiencies, and a lack of resources, capacity and political will present in the Guyanese society. The law does not provide for public access to government information. Government officials usually fear to provide public information without approval from senior administration officials. Obscuring public access to information is a substantial hindrance to battling corruption in the country.
Despite the fact that transparency and access to information is obstructed, Guyana has made efforts with improving monitoring systems in place, by joining forces with many international Anti-Corruption efforts such as the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, and is a recent signatory United Nation Convention against Organized Crime. The OAS Convention against Corruption recommended that Guyana develop standards, procedures and mechanisms supporting more systematic consultation and participation of civil society in public administration. However there is no contingent evidence found of special civil society driven anti- corruption interventions.
The government of Guyana has made efforts to promote greater accountability in the management of public resources, mainly consisting of having annual audits of government accounts conducted by the Office of the Auditor-General and establishing an Integrity Commission.
Corruption in Guyana occurs in a general context of economic hardship, institutional weakness, criminal justice inefficiencies, and racial fractionalization of society. Guyana has made an effort to combat corruption, by joining conventions and international organization, however the lack of transparency and access to information present in its legal framework allows petty corruption to further manifest itself.
Zimbabwe, a landlocked country located in Southern Africa, was historically the site of many prominent kingdoms and empires, as well as a major trading route for migration and trade. Zimbabwe is among the least competitive economies in the region. After independence, the country’s economy was largely dominated by the agricultural sector. The large-scale commercial farming sector (tobacco, tea and cotton), which was the traditional source of exports and foreign exchange, collapsed following Mugabe’s controversial land reform in 2000. The country’s economic situation has begun to stabilize after a decade of severe monetary and fiscal problems, reflected by the end of hyperinflation and a modest economic growth, driven primarily by the mining sector. However, Zimbabwe remains one of the world’s least free economies, and the country continues to face major social and economic problems, fuelled by governance failures and a succession of crisis within the ruling party. Its Human Development Index of 0.397 falls under the low human development vicinity of the spectrum.
Since the country gained independence in 1980, Zimbabwe has gradually transformed into a single-party state, characterized by the increasing concentration of powers in the presidency and the ruling party, Zimbabwe African Union-Patriotic Front, ZANU-PF. President Robert Mugabe and his party have consistently used violence, repression and manipulation to retain their grip over government institutions during this period. . According to international and domestic human rights organizations, some 200 of the opposing party activists and supporters were killed throughout 2008, and thousands were tortured and injured in the months following the elections. Against this backdrop, Zimbabwe faces major challenges of endemic corruption and a deeply entrenched party patronage system. Bribe culture is pervasive and through this corrupt backdrop with around 62% of the respondents to Transparency International’s global corruption barometer, reporting to having paid a bribe in the preceding 12 months. The collapse of the economy since 2000 has resulted in a decline of resources for public services and administration. Low salaries in Zimbabwe’s public service, inefficient bureaucracy and opacity of the overall regulatory environment are fuelling bureaucratic corruption in the public sector. Citizens and firms resort to bribery and corruption to speed up burdensome bureaucratic processes and access services to which they are entitled.
According to Global Integrity 2011 report, Zimbabwe has a very strong legal framework criminalizing offences such as active and passive bribery, extortion, money laundering, and so on. Despite achieving a strong legal framework for corruption, Zimbabwe needs to adopt a system of asset declaration for high level public officials, protections of witness and most importantly whistleblowing protection laws, which would strengthen the public reporting of corruption.
Zimbabwe has created monitoring systems in place to tackle corruption for example the Constitution established the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in 2005, as well as the National Prosecuting Authority as well as setting forth responsibilities for public officers and civil service conduct. However the resources and capacity of the institutions tasked with curbing corruption, especially the Anti- Corruption Commission, the police, the Department of Anti-Corruption and Anti- monopolies and the Department of Home Affairs, are limited and require special attention. This includes providing training and addressing the perception of mistrust in some criminal justice institutions.
Accountability still remains at dangerously low levels as oppressive laws that were in force in 2008, such as the Public Order and Security Act (the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA) and the Political Party Finance Act remain on the statute books and pose limits on freedom of speech, association and assembly. The POSA criminalizes reporting and statements which “incite or promote public disorder or violence” and the AIPPA restricts access to information held by public bodies. They can be used and abused by the police to punish ZANU-PF opponents, limiting the space for transparency, participation, voice and accountability mechanisms.
In spite of recent constitutional reforms, the country continues to face major governance challenges, manifested through various forms of corruption, ranging from petty, bureaucratic and political corruption to grand forms of corruption involving high level officials. Corruption is also characterized by the deeply entrenched system of political patronage, the tight grip of the ruling party over the security forces, and the history of political violence, repression and manipulation. Therefore even with institutes and a good legal framework in place to fight against corruption, the lack of accountability, human rights violations, lack of access to information continues to spread the culture of corruption present in society.
Mexico is considered to be a regional and middle power in the world, boasting to have one of the leading economies. It is the tenth largest oil producer, the largest silver producer in the world and is considered to be an upper-middle income by the World Bank. The country’s recent economic growth rate appears to be greatly linked to high oil prices, remittances from Mexican emigrants in the United States and illegal resources such as the drug trade. Mexico’s political stability is seriously challenged by violent, well-armed and well-financed drug cartels, which are ubiquitously found throughout the country. The country scores a 0.775 on the Human Development Index, enlisting it under the “high human development category”.
Mexican governance system follows the framework of federal presidential democratic republic whose government is based on a congressional system. The illegal drug trafficking ring ravages the political system of Mexico with an estimated of 25 to 30 billions (USD) of illegal drug money is being laundered every year in Mexico with the help of political and judicial institutions. Weak sanctions and widespread immunity for public officials involved in corruption and drug trafficking undermine the government’s political legitimacy and public confidence in state institutions. High profile cases are rarely prosecuted and citizens rank the judiciary as one of the most corrupt institutions, just behind the parliament, the political parties and the police. Bribe culture in Mexico reaches its peak with the police sector, where an estimated 80% of the crimes in Mexico City go unreported while only 6% are solved. Corruption plagues the various levels of police, and is frequently difficult to track down and prosecute since district attorneys and other members of the judiciary may protect police officers. Transparency International scores Mexico a 35/100, in the Corruption Perception Index, valuing it as an extremely corrupt country.
Mexican statutes have several provisions, framed in order to curb the corruption that has plagued the nation for so long. These legislations were passed to prohibit people from being involved in corrupt practices by prosecuting the guilty. Despite these enactments, the prevalence of corruption as an everyday practice can be attributed to the inefficiency in legal enforcement. Initiatives such as the recent constitutional reform signed by the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto creating a new anti-corruption system reflects the government’s intention on focusing on one of the most rampant issues affecting the country’s economy. Ironically the President has been under constant fire for irregularities in his real estate holdings. Thereby creating serious doubts on the extent to which anti-corruption legislations will be effectuated in the country.
In terms of monitoring systems Mexico has not established a definitive anti-corruption organization however some sensitive sectors were placed under state surveillance while the government promoted a series of reforms, laws and institutions aimed at improving the business climate and curbing corruption. Mexico’s anti-corruption strategy has primarily focused on preventing collusion between law enforcement officials and drug cartel. Accountability is very low in Mexico as most of its systems are infiltrated by the presence of the illegal drug trade, fostering corrupt practices. However In 2008, USA and Mexican leaders agreed to implement a multi-year program- known as the Merida initiative- to strengthen Mexican capacity to fight corruption and organized crime. The Merida Initiative includes providing technical advice and training to strengthen the judiciary, help vetting new police force members, create new offices to handle official complaints, and promote professional responsibility principles.
The Mexico case exemplifies the difficulties in combatting corruption in a narcotic affected country where law enforcement authorities are plagued by widespread corruption. As a result anti-corruption efforts are not as successful as in countries which do not have the problem of illegal drug trade, and need to focus on reforming the judiciary system and overhauling the police and law enforcement systems.
Morocco, a country in the Maghreb region in North Africa, has historically been a prominent regional power and has a history of independence not shared by its neighbors. Morocco’s economy is considered to be relatively liberal governed by the law of supply and demand. Since 1993 it has followed the policy of privatization sectors, which used to be in the hands of the government. The service sector accounts for over half the country’s GDP, following with mining, construction and manufacturing. Revolutions sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa region during 2011 have shone light on widespread corruption prevalent in Morocco. Human Development Index scores Morocco to be 0.617, falling under the medium level of human development. Revolutions sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region during 2011 have shone light on widespread corruption, particularly political corruption, in Morocco.
Morocco follows a constitutional monarchy, in which the King of Morocco (Mohammed VI) holds vast executive and legislative power, thereby making the government structure of the country very centralized. The country’s monarchical system and weak institutions are seen as a possible explanation behind the relatively high levels of political corruption in Morocco. For example, the King’s activities remain largely unchecked by public institutions and his centralized power provides a fertile environment for corruption to flourish. Moreover, government spending and the King’s personal assets remain opaque. Some estimates suggest that the King ’s fortune may be worth US $2.5, making him one of the richest royals in the world. The judicial system in particular is seen as being subjected to political pressure from the monarchy, the military, and political and economic elites, and as being deeply penetrated by individuals engaged in illegal practices.
The deeply centralized and hierarchal government system existent in the country acts as a breeding ground for widespread retail corruption or ‘bribe culture’. Transparency International scores Morocco a 39/100, on the Corruption Perception Index making it an extremely corrupt country. However early in 2011, tens of thousands of pro-democracy protesters gathered in various cities, calling for a shift to a constitutional monarchy in what was termed the February 20th movement. In response to the thousands of citizens marching in street protests in February 2011, the Moroccan government has offered limited reforms to address their demands for more democracy and an end to corruption.
Despite the problems of perceived chronic corruption, Morocco has been developing its domestic anti-corruption legal framework. In particular, Morocco has adopted anti-money laundering laws and is making the regulatory system more transparent. In addition, the government has carried out increased investigations against officials, which have resulted in convictions. In spite of progress made, Global Integrity’s index shows that the country continues to suffer from a weak legal and institutional framework, both in policy and practice. This stems from problems such as an absence of checks and balances on executive power, weak conflict of interest safeguards, a lack of whistle blower protections, an opaque budgetary process, and limited access to information. For instance, the asset declarations performed by members of parliament every three years, are not made public, lowering transparency and accountability of public services.
As part of meeting its UNCAC commitments, the country established a national anti-corruption agency in 2008: the Central Instance for Corruption Prevention (CICP). The creation of the anti-corruption institute has shown that the country is making an effort to create a better monitoring system in place. The agency is aimed at monitoring government practices and preventing corruption throughout the country. However, assessments of the body have noted that it lacks the required investigative and sanctioning powers to effectively pursue corruption charges.
Moroccan government has made strides with trying to improve its accountability as a two-year anti-corruption plan has been implemented in Morocco to reform different institutions. This has attempted to identify many of the anti-corruption weaknesses signaled in its legal framework. Reforms include the protection of whistleblowers and requirements for government officials to declare their assets, which improves the transparency of the system making corruption harder to manifest itself. Moreover, the newly appointed Minister for Public Sector Modernization has set up an inter-ministerial committee to oversee government action against corruption.
Pakistan, a sovereign country in South Asia, historically has a turbulent political nature, being characterized by periods of military rule, political instability and conflicts with neighboring country India. It is a semi-industrialized economy with a well-integrated agriculture sector. Its economy is the 26th largest in the world in terms of purchasing power and is characterized to be between the emerging and growth leading economies of the world. The country continues to face problems such as overpopulation, illiteracy, terrorism, poverty and corruption. Human Development Index ranks it as a low human development country with a score of 0.515. Corruption remains a substantial obstacle for Pakistan where it is still perceived to be widespread and systemic.
Political turbulence and insecurity have dominated Pakistan over the last 50 years, marked by frequent regime changes and unrest. Between 1990 and 1999, four different democratically elected governments held power under the same two political leaders. Each administration was either dismissed or overturned, often as a result of corruption charges and allegations of power misuse. The elite leadership despite having been empowered by the masses through a democratic process has developed malicious vindictiveness and insensitivity against general public. Promises made during election campaign are quickly forgotten, while perks of public offices are fully enjoyed. Unfortunately, voters, due to their extreme poverty and poignant standing lack social influence and political power, becoming trading pawns in the hands of politicians who regard elections as windows of business in which corruption flourishes and the public turn to bribe payment and petty corruption to get by. Transparency International scores Pakistan a 29/100 on the Corruption Perception Index, marking it as an extremely corrupt country. The wide consensus across surveys points to the police as being one of the most corrupt institutions in Pakistan. According to Global Integrity appointments in the police force are often based on political considerations. Police officers frequently have conflicts of interest due to personal loyalties and family connections. It is also well known that in Pakistan, influential landlords decide the appointment of law enforcement officers in their area, with police officers acting on their behalf.
The legal framework for addressing corruption includes the Pakistan Penal Code of 1960 (PPC), the Prevention of Corruption Act of 1947 and the National Accountability Ordinance of 1999 (NAO). The PCA criminalizes both active and passive bribery, while the NAO outlines the authority of the NAB. The ordinance was re-propagated in September 2002 with some modifications and it will remain in force after the election of a new parliament. The NAO has been criticized for excluding important categories of officials, including the judiciary and active personnel of the armed forces. However, the current anti-corruption framework of the country is perceived to be in a state of disorder following the issue of the National Reconciliation Ordinance by President General Musharraf in October 2007, which circumscribes the NAO.
Institutional framework for anticorruption efforts includes the National-Anti Corruption Bureau (NAB) that has preventive enforcement and public awareness functions. Its mandate is to investigate and prosecute corruption cases and it publishes annual reports on its progress. However, it is important to note that the judiciary and active military personnel are not subject to the NAB‘s oversight. Therefore making Pakistan monitoring system politically biased and reducing transparency in transactions. Accountability in Pakistan is relatively low, as many public officials and military personnel are exempted from declaring assets and investigation from the NAB. Although good progress had been achieved in public sector accountability, major gaps and weaknesses remain in the accountability chain. These have arisen mainly from low institutional and staff capacity and uneven implementation of reform measures. Moreover, the National Reconciliation Ordinance of October 2007 has granted blanket immunity for Anti-corruption proceedings have long been suspected of being skewed. They are mainly directed against members of the political opposition and minor civil servants while leaving the conduct of military officials outside scrutiny. The dismissal of members from anti-corruption efforts has led to violent civil unrest and further shaken the public’s trust in the judiciary to undertake anti-corruption prosecution.