Corruption remains among the top issues faced by Afghans, survey finds

Wahidullah Azizi, Integrity Watch Afghanistan

Kabul (Dec 9, 2018): According to the results of the recent National Corruption  Survey, launched by Integrity Watch Afghanistan, corruption remains one of the top issues in the daily life of the Afghans after unemployment and insecurity. The bi-annual survey also estimated that USD 1.7b was paid in bribes by people to access public services such as obtaining a marriage certificate, visiting a publicly funded health facility or paying a utility bill. The Survey measures the progress the National Unity Government has made in the fight against corruption since it took office four years ago. According to the 2014 Survey, an estimated USD 1.9b was paid by the public to access the same services at that time. Whilst the estimated amount paid of individual bribes dropped significantly from when the last time Integrity Watch run the survey, worryingly the total estimated number of people who paid bribes increased from 3.4 million to over 4.5 million. Integrity Watch considers that the drop in the amount paid as individual bribes is due to the deteriorating economy of Afghanistan.

Coinciding with the International Anti-Corruption Day, the survey was launched on 9 December 2018 with the participation of a large number of civil society representatives, academics, government officials and citizens. Presenting the findings of the survey before the media, Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch said, the survey represents a mixed picture of the results of the fight against corruption. According to Mr. Afzali, while there has been some improvement in the areas such as procurement and civil service recruitment, but the bulk of the problem remains unchanged. The fact that corruption remains one of the top problems faced by Afghans confirms the 2016 Survey’s findings in which corruption was the third biggest issue after unemployment and insecurity. In order to achieve tangible results, Sayed Ikram Ifzali suggested that government should allow the establishment of the Independent Anti-Corruption Commission based on accepted principles and with the meaningful engagement of civil society.

Minister of Public Works Yama Yari, who was present at the launch of the 2018 National Anti-Corruption Survey results event welcomed the conduct of the survey by Integrity Watch and stated that during the past years more than USD 500 million was saved thanks to the introduction of a new procurement system. He acknowledged the practice of widespread corruption in public agencies. For example, ghost roads have been built in the name of the Ministry of Public Works but in reality, no construction took place. Minister Yari who received the title of ‘Anti-corruption Hero’ from Integrity Watch mentioned that Afghanistan has now got the best Access to Information Law in the world and this can be instrumental to improving transparency in the public sector with the citizens and journalists able to access information on public spending. In 2016 Mr. Yari helped Afghanistan join Open Government Partnership by announcing Afghanistan’s membership in an OPG summit in France.

Abdul Aziz Aryaie, Head of the Electoral Complaints Commission criticized the government for insufficient action to combat corruption. Mr. Aryaie emphasized that an election marred by rigging will lead to corrupt persons finding their way into parliament as representatives of the people. This issue which he called ‘political corruption’ will have far-reaching implications and will further slow down the fight against corruption. He reasserted the point he made earlier when stating that “Until the Electoral Commissions is fundamentally reformed, the fight against corruption with remain in limbo”.

Integrity Watch’s National Corruption Survey published every two years is the only comprehensive nation-wide survey about corruption in Afghanistan. The 2018 survey is its 6th since beginning the national surveys in 2006. The current survey reflects the findings from a survey of more than 8000 respondents’ perceptions and experiences of corruption in the past 12 months. Another equally important survey finding is the respondents ranking of government agencies from the most corrupt to less corrupt based.  The justice sector which includes the judiciary, the prosecution service, and the police along with the  Ministry of Education were named as the most corrupt institutions.

 

Please download the full report from here: National Corruption Survey 2018: Afghans’ Perceptions and Experience of Corruption