Corruption kills millions each year

The following is summarised from an address by Professor Adam Graycar, Head of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers State University in New Jersey to Australia’s ABC RN ‘Ockham’s Razor’ program

Corruption is using official office or entrusted power, for personal gain. The World Economic Forum has estimated that the cost of corruption is about $2.6-trillion a year. That’s about 5% of global GDP. The World Bank has estimated that about $1-trillion a year is paid in bribes, while about $40-billion a year is looted by corrupt political leaders. The impacts of corruption are devastating. If corruption undermines the rule of law, trust and harmony are non-existent. National institutions are weakened. There are gross inequities in social and economic services. Corrupt countries do not attract investment, there is economic inefficiency, and environmental damage. The national economy suffers through distorted public investment and revenue loss. Talent is reduced because it is easier to be a crooked bureaucrat than a scientist or an entrepreneur. And it is the poor who suffer most because they depend on public services and the natural environment, and they are the least able to pay bribes for essential services that should be theirs as a right.

Grand corruption describes kleptocracy and State capture, the manipulation by those not formally in power, of the institutions of the State and its economic direction. Here is a list of some of the biggest kleptocrats:

  • President Soeharto of Indonesia, who is reputed to have looted up to $35-billion.
  • President Marcos of the Philippines got away with about $10-billion,
  • President Mobutu of Zaire, about $5-billion,
  • President Milosevic of Yugoslavia a mere $1-billion.

Petty corruption

  • changing hands to obtain some basic service, or a permit, or to prevent something like a small fine or a parking ticket or a speeding ticket.
  •  a lot of contracts and purchases in aid programs, everything from medical equipment, bribes for medical services, purchases of textbooks in educational programs, and licences for land clearing.

Bribery, might be in cash; inside information; meals or entertainment, holidays, employment, sexual favours. No bribe, no food in hospital; no bribe, no garbage collection. Extortion, forms of intimidation to extract payments.

Theft and fraud. Kleptocrats; selling food or medical supplies from an aid shipment,

Abuse of discretion in the issuing of permits and licences, procurement, real estate development, and often in the judicial system in some countries. Self dealing involves hiring one’s own company, or the company belonging to close associates or relatives to provide public services.

Patronage, nepotism or favouritism occurs when one hires somebody because of who they are, rather than what they can do; or creating ‘no show’ jobs, a corrupt pay-off where salaries are paid for people who never or rarely turn up.

Conflict of interest.

Justice for sale. Corrupt police, prosecutors, judges.

Corruption in the health sector Transparency International estimates that a 2-point change in a corruption rating would halve child mortality. Seen in construction of hospitals; attendance of patients and  supply of drugs.

Corruption in education seen in: the purchase of equipment, textbooks and supplies,  hiring of teachers and principals, ghost teachers,  lucrative contracts for maintenance, cleaning and meal provision, construction of school buildings that are not safe,

Grand corruption in natural resources

  • Officials control supply, access and the permits,
  • rapacious companies bribe to clear land, extract minerals, fish or undertake logging in areas that cannot sustain these activities.

Corruption in the supply of electricity, telecommunications, water and sanitation. Big capital projects are susceptible to the Mr 10 percents, while numerous opportunities exist for minor officials to cut your water, falsify your meter reading, or turn a blind eye to illegal connections.

Corruption in public service delivery sees:  tainted recruitment process; offices are purchased; bureaucracy is bloated with lots of relatives of politicians, and those who did not get their jobs through a transparent process.

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