10 December 2010

Around the World, 1 in 4 people say that in the last year they have paid a bribe to receive public services.  This is disclosed in the data collected by Transparency International for its 7th annual corruption barometer released yesterday.  The survey gathers the experiences of more than 91,000 people in 86 countries.  The results indicate that corruption is increasing, and is seen to be doing so more dramatically in the EU and North America than any other regions.

This year, for the first time, responses from New Zealanders are included in the survey. Their contributions are unsettling.  73% indicated that they saw an increase in corruption in New Zealand.  4% said they had paid a bribe in the last year – this compares with 5% in USA, 2% in Australia, 1% in Britain and none in Denmark.

Where 1 is not at all corrupt and 5 means being very corrupt, sectors in New Zealand were rated as follows:

Parliament  3.2,  Business sector  3.2,  Religious bodies  3.1,  Media  3.1,  Public officials  3.0,     Police  2.7,   NGOs  2.6,  Judiciary  2.5,  Education system 2.4,  Military  2.2 .

These sector ratings were generally less favourable than in the Scandinavian countries with which New Zealand is commonly compared – eg New Zealand Public officials, Police and the Judiciary were rated as more corrupt than in Finland, Denmark and Norway.   This may reflect incidents in New Zealand which have received media coverage recently.  New Zealand and Scandinavian governments are seen as being similarly effective in their efforts to fight corruption.

The survey shows that 70% of people would report a corrupt act if they saw one, although if they were victims of corruption, this drops to about half.  Transparency International commented that “the message from the 2010 Barometer is that corruption is insidious. It makes people lose faith. The good news is that people are ready to act.”