India has the highest bribery rate in the Asia Pacific region where nearly seven in 10 people who had accessed public services had paid a bribe, said a report by the Transparency International.
The report titled ‘People and Corruption: Asia Pacific – Global Corruption Barometer’ is one of the most extensive survey of its kind involving 21,861 people in sixteen countries, regions and territories across the Asia Pacific region between July 2015 and January 2017 about their perceptions and experiences of corruption.
The report comes at a key moment when many governments in the region are preparing agendas to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which includes reducing corruption and bribery in all their forms.
The survey found that bribery affects a huge number of citizens. It is estimated that over 900 million people across the sixteen surveyed countries had paid a bribe in the past year when trying to access basic services like education or healthcare.
Bribery rates for countries vary considerably across the region – from 0.2 per cent in Japan of respondents reporting paying a bribe to 69 per cent in India.
This was followed closely by Vietnam where around two thirds had paid a bribe when accessing services. Bribery was far lower in Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea where fewer than five percent of respondents had paid a bribe when they accessed public services.
A half of people in the region said that their government was doing a bad job at fighting corruption, while around two in five said that they were doing a good job.
The finding suggests serious problems in the provision of law and order in a number of countries. The results show the police are perceived to have the highest levels of corruption of all the key institutions
Across the region, nearly two in five said that they thought police officers were corrupt. In addition, just under a third of people who had come into contact with a police officer in the last twelve months had paid a bribe.
Bribery often hurts to poorest most but this can differ across countries. Around 39 percent of poorest people have paid a bribe as they have fewer options and less power or influence to avoid them.
In India, 55 percent of the rich people also paid a bribe, while 73 percent of the poor paid it. Some countries such as Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Taiwan and China had a reverse trend then the richest people were more likely to pay bribes.
However, few people report corruption as they are afraid of the consequences. Only seven per cent of bribe payers said that they had actually reported it to the authorities.
The main reason most corruption incidents went unreported was because people were afraid of the consequences, followed by a belief that it would not make a difference and a lack of awareness of the appropriate reporting channels.
The survey results show a great diversity in the corruption risks across the region, but in every country surveyed there is scope for improved approaches to corruption prevention.
It calls for better whistleblower protection and effective reporting mechanisms so that people can feel safe reporting corruption and can have confidence that action will be taken as a result.