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As defined by Transparency International, corruption entails power misuse by persons seeking to satisfy their selfish interest. Corruption is a widespread problem that is especially rampant among the developing nations. It significantly hinders development since it is associated with misuse of the public resources. Bribery, embezzlement of funds and illegitimate procurement always impose extra and unjustified costs to the cost of acquiring public services and damages the credibility of those institutions that are involved in the vice.
The corruption perception index of 2009 indicates that Somali and Afghanistan are among the most corrupt countries with their CPI scores registering as low as 1.1 and 1.3 respectively. Denmark and New Zealand on the other hand are ranked as having least corruption incidences in the public sector with CPI scores of 9.3 and 9.4 respectively. The CPI score displays the perceived level of public sector corruption in a given country and is used to rank countries depending on the score attained (Transparency International, 2009).
Corruption Trends in Somali and Afghanistan
In Somali, corruption is experienced on daily basis on almost every area of life. The government institutions charged with the responsibility of providing services to the Somali citizens has been found wanting for decades. However, the self-declared republic in the North is trying to put in place a stable system and working institutions in an attempt to remedy the situation (Warsameh, 2009).
Corruption is widespread all over Somali. Government officials frustrate the poverty-stricken citizens by requiring them to pay bribe at every level of contact with them. At the airports, the citizens have to pay a fee to internal security officers when entering and leaving the country. The populace has to part with these illegal fees to evade false charges risk (Warsameh, 2009). At sea ports, merchants complain that they have to pay excessive import taxes. In addition, they have to pay a ‘facilitation fee’ to the port authority officials in order to receive better services (Warsameh, 2009). Motorists particularly in the capital city of Mogadishu are constantly faced with similar demands from traffic officers, military officers, and clan militias.
They have to pay a daily fee to enable them to use the drivable roads in the city. The Somali authorities continually deny having knowledge of such money being extorted from the public service vehicle operators. The local media has limited access to the information that would incriminate the government officials involved in corrupt deals and graft (Warsameh, 2009). Government activities are surrounded by great secrecy and any news that come from the government is always spin or being aimed at defamation of a government official who is at logger heads with the prime minister.
In fact, In Somali, the local media has never been successful in exposing any corruption scandal in the country. This can also be attributed to lack of media freedom despite approval from the (national) parliament (Warsameh, 2009). Efforts by journalists to uncover corruption deal results in threats of persecution and arbitrary arrest of the media practitioners.” Since 2007, nearly ten journalists have been killed and nearly 50 others arrested though most of them were later released” (Warsameh, 2010). Law makers in Somali are also bribed to vote on different issues and motions in parliament.
Afghanistan is also adversely affected by corruption. The country’s citizens feel that corruption is the greatest problem of the time ranked higher than insecurity (Gebauer & Volkery, 2010). Payment of bribes in Afghanistan has become a routine. A study released by the U.N indicated that in a span of twelve months, the nation had paid 2.5 billions dollars in bribes (Gebauer & Volkery, 2010). In Afghanistan, it is almost impossible to obtain a public service without having to pay bribe. One in every two people interviewed in the study reported to have paid bribe in the previous year after having been requested to do so (Gebauer & Volkery, 2010).
The study also revealed incidences of corruption were most common in the institution that is charged with maintaining law and order. Twenty five percent of those interviewed reported to have bribed a policeman, eighteen percent a judge, and thirteen percent a public attorney (Gebauer & Volkery, 2010).This evidently portrays the wide spread corruption in the police and judicial system. Indeed, the afghan people believe that it is cheaper and convenient to buy a judge rather than hiring a lawyer.
The Afghanistan people live by certain unwritten rules that promote corruption; if a passenger needs quick clearance at the airport, he has to pay twenty dollars at the first checkpoint. A driver’s license costs only about $ 180 and you do not even have to take the driving test while a price of $ 60000 can get you out of prison for charges as serious as drug smuggling. These are just few examples of the incidences of corrupt deals being carried out in Afghanistan. Deep-rooted problems associated with corruption still need to be addressed.
Reasons for Low Corruption Rates in Denmark and New Zealand
The highly scoring countries in CPI score like Denmark and New Zealand generally reflect countries that display elements of political stability, strong regulations that govern conflict of interests as well as strong and efficiently functioning public institutions (Transparency international, 2010). Denmark has managed to top the charts of the least corrupt and high integrity countries through its widespread promotion of a culture that strongly opposes corruption.
This culture is transmitted over to generations and if sustained will completely wipe out corruption in this country. Ever since the seventeenth century, corruption in Denmark has been treated as a criminal offence and strict measures have been put in place to guard against it. The country also enacted a code in the 1920s that ensures that its public servants earn a reasonable salary, have job security and pension scheme. In the same period, corruption laws were reviewed and this significantly influenced their fight against corruption. Currently, it is morally wrong and unacceptable in Denmark to engage in corrupt deals and an attempt to do so is treated as a criminal offence.
New Zealand was ranked as the least corrupt country in the world in the 2009 report by transparency international. Unlike most of the other countries of the world, New Zealand does not have anti corruption agencies. Rather, it has agencies that aim at ensuring that the country maintains a corruption free environment as well as enforcing the laws and regulations governing corruption. It also has a well-established serious fraud office that assists with investigation that requires analysis of financial transactions. This promotes New Zealand efforts to fight against corruption.
Ethical Issues Relating To Corruption
Bribery is one of the typical phenomena that confront individuals in business and corporate world. For example, the European law does not put measures against corruption exercised away from their countries (Saee, 2010). Indeed, some of the countries like France and Germany have created a provision that allows firms to deduct bribes made to foreigners as business expenses from their taxable income (Saee, 2010).
These laws to some extent legitimize bribery and extortion and create the impression that these nations are introducing corruption to other nations while they themselves do not permit. American law however discourages this practice. In fact, if an American corporate executive is found guilty of bribery away from the country, he is heavily fined or sometimes sent to prison. Bribery however is more prevalent in the Asian, African and the Middle East despite its illegality. This is primarily due to low salaries that are paid to the government officials in the less developed countries resulting to the need for extra income to supplement their salaries (Saee, 2010)
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Corruption also leads to overall deterioration of living standards of the people being subjected to it. It is a system that promotes greed and self-benefit of top ranked government officials at the expense of citizens. Corruption has been deeply entrenched in some societies such that it extends to the point of embezzlement of relief aid. Transparency international however seeks to prevent such cases.
It helps humanitarian organization to identify corrupt activities in this sector and suggests measures that the humanitarian organizations should adopt in order to protect themselves against the vice through its numerous publications (Transparency International, 2009). According to their report titled ’mapping risks of corruption in humanitarian action’, any abuse of emergency relief aid is intolerable since it’s the avenue through which basic services are provided to people who have been caught up in desperate circumstances such as war, famine or natural disasters (Transparency international, 2009).
Possible Solutions to the Problem of Corruption
To deal with the ranging global problem of corruption, anti-corruption bodies have been established in most countries to investigate and check against cases of corruption in those countries. These institutions cannot however perform efficiently due to the barriers being imposed by institutions of higher authority in the corrupt countries. It is therefore necessary for these countries to concentrate on total transformation of the governing institutions in order for the anti corruption agencies to achieve their goals. The environment in which the public and the private sector interact in countries affected by corruption need to be adjusted such that it provides limited or no room at all for corrupt activities.
Extensive public campaigns should be conducted across regions to create awareness of individual rights as well as transforming the public attitude towards corruption by reducing their level of tolerance to the vice. Public institutions should be reformed and strengthened to ensure that they are serving their purpose effectively. Since elimination of corruption requires strong oversight from the governing institutions, the parliament and the judiciary should be independent and should be dedicated towards the process of fighting corruption.
Countries should also ensure that they promote transparency in areas such as the public budgets revenue and aid flows which should be accurately audited and where necessary released to the public. This will result in renewed confidence among the citizenry to the public institutions. The government should also promote an independent media as well as vibrant civil society.(Transparency international, 2009). Strict administrative standards should also be adhered to in order to reduce cases of misuse of resources and malpractices by the public officers.
Corruption is a global problem that faces each an every country of the world but at varying extent. Fighting the vice is one of the greatest challenges of the time, as it requires undivided dedication from all the stakeholders to make the entire process a success. The problem is especially widespread among the developing countries where it has led to further widening of the gap existing between the poor and the rich in these countries. It has affected the living conditions of the poor by reducing their already inadequate disposable income in payments of bribes.
Corruption is also one of the major hindrances to the process of economic development in any given country. Developing countries should therefore aim at minimizing the levels of corruption in the regions in order to efficiently exploit their resources to the maximum and reach high levels of Economic and social development. Other countries that have registered high levels of integrity should not sit back but should put on measures to sustain the situation and wipe out the remaining traces of corruption in their country. This way, we will be a step closer towards a corruption free society.
Gebauer & Volkery (2010). Corruption in Afghanistan: UN report claim bribes equal to quarter of GDP. Spiegel Online. Web.
Saee, J. (2009). Ethical Challenges Confronting Entrepreneurs within Contemporary Global Economy: In Search of a New World Ethics. Journal of management Science. Web.
Transparency International website (2009). Surveys and indices- Transparency international annual report of 2009. Web.
Warsameh, A. (2009). In Somalia, “Paying to be alive” A review of global integrity report of 2008. Global Integrity commons. Web.