We all know what corruption is, but everybody has a different opinion of what it really is.
So what is really corruption?
Is it right to pay someone to speed up an application process? Is it considered as bribery to pay a doctor to write a medicine you need?
The word corruption is derived from the Latin verb “rumpere” meaning “to break” and if we look closer, corruption does exist when the law of a state is broken. It has existed from ancient times tracing back to the ancient Greek and Roman Empire but today there are various types of corruption divided in sections.
Endemic corruption Endemic or systematic corruption is when the corruption is integrated component of the economical, social and political system. Important institutions of the state are dominated and used by corrupt individuals or groups and the civilians have no alternative but to accept it.
Sporadic (individual) corruption Is opposite of the endemic corruption and occurs irregularly. This does not affect or threaten the country’s economy.
Political (Grand) corruption Political corruption is transaction of money or goods between private and public sector actors as they convert collective goods illegally into private payoffs to maintain their status and wealth. Those involved are political decision makers using their authority to abuse and ignore laws and regulations to fit their interests.
Petty corruption Also called bureaucratic corruption is the everyday corruption that takes place where the public officials meet the citizens personally. It is bribery connected to laws, rules and regulations but involves a modest sum of money. This corruption can be seen in hospitals, schools, police, taxing authorities etc.
Bribery Bribery is an offer of money or favor to influence a public official.
Nepotism Nepotism is favoritism shown by public officials towards relatives or friends.
Why does corruption occur?
Corruption mainly occurs because of self interest and greed. People tend to turn the blind eye on the fact that the bribery affects others and justify it because they benefit from it. Even if they don’t plan to repeat it, the greed drives them further and further. The moment a person has authority and status, corruption becomes an opportunity and integrated in the mentality. We have to admit that this is human nature and human always tend to choose the easy way out.
But there is difference between self interest of one individual and the self interest of a nation. A public official can take extra payment from greed if his or her salary is low, and a state can take drastic measures to gain benefit.
USA for example, invaded Iraq and Afghanistan because they had an interest on obtaining oil and other necessities. This self interest may have influenced their decision.
Causes of corruption
- Corruption does affect everybody but in different ways and different levels even if they don’t get in direct contact with it. High level corruption and corrupt government like we can find in Afghanistan reduces the wealth in the country and bring instability and making the poor more poor.
- It threatens good governance, sustainable development, democratic process and fair business.
- It affects every country socially, politically and economically.
- It undermines democratic institutions and slows the economy heading to instability.
- Corruption in judiciary department destroys the rule of law and bringing instability and mistrust.
According to the statistics from Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Afghanistan ranks as 176 out of 178 countries in corruption.
Fragile economy leads to instability and poverty encouraging to corruption because of low wages. The government officials take advantage of their status and position and the poor people pay the price making them poorer and corruption and bribery that has almost been integrated in the country.
When we look from the outside, we think that the bombings, instable security and the poverty would be the biggest challenge and problem, but the Afghans say that corruption and the corrupt leadership is their biggest challenge and everyday problem.
The citizens are forced to pay bribery to the police, doctors, judges, prosecutors and not least members of the government. “It’s cheaper to buy a judge than to hire a lawyer” says many. The locals must also pay “tax” when they enter another province as the police have created illegal checkpoints and the police officers have to pay half of the amount to their chiefs.
Taxhaven Afghanistan is receiving huge amounts of money from the international world but where does all this money go?
A large amount of this money leaves Afghanistan with the destination to Dubai, a tax haven for those who wants to increase their budget and avoid questioning. Some estimates tell that from 2007, almost $3 billion in cash has left the airport in Kabul. The airport has no control over the money being transferred as its not declared or logged down. People with black suitcases sit in business class and if someone questions them, the solution is only a phone call away.
After pressure from USA and other countries, Karzai took heavy measures to tackle the corruption. Besides removing officials and arresting them, an international security group company called Global Strategies Group was hired to take responsibility at Kabul airport in summer of 2009 and report the amount of money that was leaving. But for some reason in September same year, the group was no longer desired there anymore.
The family of Hamid Karzai has also been linked to more than a dozen expensive homes in Dubai, Palm Jumeirah. This has made people suspicious and fearing that the aid money given to Afghanistan is highly misused. His brother Mahmoud Karzai has been in the spotlight many times for his large amount salary and luxury homes in Dubai.
There have also been several cases where members of NGO’s have been accused of corruption. A survey showed that 54% of the Afghans believe strongly that the international organizations and NGO’s “are corrupt” and stay in the country for their personal benefit. If we look at the amount of money passing through, it’s not hard to figure out that something is not right.
Lately, a secret videotaping showed that a Ukrainian women working for an organization told a man to bring $8000 for her to help him. After the release of the video, she withdrew back and hasn’t been seen since.
What can be done?
The corruption is a disease making Afghanistan sick from the inside out
Today there is an obvious growing intolerance towards corruption all over the world and the pressure from media and citizens, the government are taking the step to punish those in high positions and everyone else involved in it. They should be removed from their positions and imprisoned for the felony.
The problem is the economy of a state. If there is instability and existing poverty, people will turn to bribery but the widespread corruption increases the poverty and violating the human rights of the Afghan people.
The government officials and the decision makers first of all must try to get the economy of the country on its feet as poorer municipalities have more corrupt officials than the richer ones. An officer who makes $500 a month, lives in a villa and drives an expensive car makes no sense.
One way to overcome this battle is to implement prevention and prosecution together with other kinds of sanctions including imprisonment and the loss of authority. Officials must hire others to double and triple check at all time as they regularly test public officials who are in contact with the public, but only a group of people with ethical behavior can manage this.