March 9, 2017 1:00 pm JST

Over 1 in 4 people in Asia pay bribes for public services

Survey found India to be the worst, at nearly 70%; police seen as the most corrupt

SHOTARO TANI, Nikkei staff writer

TOKYO -- More than one in four people in Asia paid a bribe to receive basic public services such education or health care, according to a a recent survey by the anti-graft group Transparency International.

The survey -- which covered 21,861 people across 16 countries and regions -- estimates that 900 million people had paid bribes in the past year to receive a public service. India was the worst, with nearly 70% of those surveyed saying they had done so. Rampant corruption was one of the factors that drove Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to suddenly ban 500 and 1,000 rupee notes.

Vietnam was next, at 65%, followed by Thailand, Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar. Perhaps surprisingly, only 26% of the Chinese respondents said they had paid a bribe. However, 73% of the Chinese respondents said they thought corruption had increased in the past year, the most among the governments covered by the survey.

The survey also found that the police force was considered the most corrupt institution, with nearly two in five respondents regarding police officers as mostly corrupt or entirely corrupt. That response is no doubt linked to the fact that nearly a third of the respondents who had contact with the police in the previous year said they had to pay a bribe "either to get the assistance that they needed or to avoid a fine." Next on the list were lawmakers, government officials and local government counselors.

"It is essential that the countries in the Asia-Pacific region achieve sustainable and equitable development -- this can only be done by ensuring that public decision-making promotes the common good," the report said. "Corruption undermines this, as it distorts democratic processes and promotes private over public interests ... . Governments must deliver on their anti-corruption commitments made globally and regionally by implementing legislation and practice at the national level."

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