7 in 10 Indians pay bribe for healthcare services, ID related documents: Transparency International survey

Sriparna Ghosh

India has the highest bribery rate among 16 Asia Pacific countries, a Transparency International survey has revealed. In India, seven in ten people with access to public services confessed to paying bribe, while only 0.2 percent respondents in Japan, the least corrupt county, reported bribery.

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While over half of Indian respondents accepted that the government makes efforts to tackle bribery, slightly more than 40 percent of the respondents viewed that corruption had increased over the past twelve months. The findings also said that 63 percent of the respondents in India also felt that they as individuals had the power to fight corruption.

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Transparency International focused on six key public services while conducting the survey -- public schools, public hospitals, official documents (such as identification card, voters card), public utility services, police and courts.

The study highlighted that 38 percent of the poorest people surveyed said they paid a bribe either for access to a service or for quicker delivery. In some countries like India, Pakistan and Thailand, it was the poorer section that had to bear the brunt of corruption and pay a bribe.

While 73 percent of those who paid a bribe in India were from the poorer section of society, in Pakistan and Thailand, this percentage was 64 percent and 46 percent, respectively.

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Interestingly, China followed a reverse policy. The richer sections indulged in more bribery for quicker and better services.

"Governments must do more to deliver on their anti-corruption commitments. It's time to stop talking and act. Millions of people are forced to pay bribes for public services and it is the poor who are most vulnerable," Transparency International chairman Jose Ugaz was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

It was also noted that in India, the most bribe was paid to healthcare services and even identification related documents as nearly 59 percent of the respondents had paid a bribe for such services. This was followed by education, as 58 percent of the respondents reported paying bribes to avail education related services.

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At the state level, anti-corruption policies must be focussed on catering to the poor. Uniform best practices for state level lokayuktas must be agreed upon and any overlaps with other law enforcement agencies must be resolved at the earliest," Transparency International's regional coordinator (South Asia and Mongolia) Ilham Mohamed added.

"India needs to urgently align its foreign bribery laws with its UNCAC (United Nations Convention against Corruption) obligations. Signing OECD anti-bribery commission is key in this process. The legal infrastructure for public procurement in India falls under the remit of the General Financial Rules. TI recommends that a national procurement law that incorporates international best practices including debarment, appeal processes and a review processes be enacted."

"This will substantially reduce fraud in public contracting which will in turn affect the quality of public service delivery. For grand corruption, a key step would be to set up effective enabling regulations and institutions for the Lokpal," she added.

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