Bribery rampant in state institutions, study shows [Archives:2007/1072/Local News]
For Yemen Times
Yemeni individuals and groups, including civil society organizations and political parties, agree that bribery is rampant within Yemen's various governmental institutions, however, there is disagreement regarding its volume, reasons and consequences.
The Yemeni Polling Center conducted a study on bribery in 2006 and included responses of 699 informants from Sana'a, Taiz, Aden, Al-Hodeidah and Sa'ada.
The overwhelming majority of study participants believed that the rate of bribery within government is high. Around 78 percent declared that bribery is rampant in all governmental institutions, while 16 percent declared that bribery is only existent in some governmental institutions. A little over three percent mentioned it being existent in very few governmental institutions, while less than one percent believed it to be non-existent. Less than one percent either declined to answer or answered, “I don't know.”
Reasons behind bribery
The results of the study pointed to inadequate government employee salaries as being the main reason for the spread of bribery, with 75 percent of participants indicating this reason. Sixty-two percent related the reason to the absence of a religious deterrent while 50 percent believed the weakness of legal punishment is a prime reason for the spread of bribery. Just 12.6 percent held the absence of bylaws and the complexity of legal measures as reasons for bribery.
State institutions and bribery
The study indicated that Yemenis believe the judicial system is the most bribery-afflicted state institution with 65 percent, as opposed to 59 percent who believe bribery is mainly within the security sector. The Ministry of Finance and the Tax and Customs authorities came in third with 47 percent.
Instances of bribery were believed to take place within water, health, and electricity institutions by 20, 28 and 28 percent study participants respectively.
Bribery's future in Yemen
According to the study, bribery in Yemen is increasing with 80 percent of informants believing this, while 11 percent believed it is decreasing.
Seventy percent of study participants believed employees who take bribes delay people's dealings as a means of forcing people to comply with their demands. However, 58 percent believed employees ask for bribes before doing anything and this can be explicit or implicit.
The study also indicated that 90 percent of informants connected bribery with someone's desire to hasten the processing of transactions followed by wanting to hasten the approval of an illegal application according to 58 percent of informants.
Bribery is dangerous and damages the national economy and investment as it deprives the country of customs, tax revenue and other due fees. Money paid through bribery causes inflation of expenditures, cheating in business dealings and poor implementation of projects.
It also poses a great threat to the maintenance of moral and social norms especially when people view bribe-takers as clever and an example to be emulated by others.
Ninety-four percent held that bribery passively affects economic and social development, while 1.3 percent indicated it has no effect and further believed that bribe-takers do enjoy respect from people. Thirty-nine percent believed that the government is not serious about fighting bribery.
Bribery and absence of law implementation
Articles 151 to 161 of penal law No. 12 issued in 1999 declare any request or payment to a public official to be a bribe for which the perpetrator should be sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. The law also dictates sending the one who offers a bribe to prison for five years in addition to punishing a mediator between the bribe-taker and bribe-giver.
What was surprising about the study is the punishment directed toward an honest employee who admits to accepting a bribe with 53 percent of study participants noting that honest employees are subjected to punishment, sidelining, and pressure. Sixty-five percent pointed out that an employee proven to have accepted a bribe is not punished and another 52 percent held that state employees taking bribes are not punished because they enjoy the protection and support of high officials.
The study called for coordinated efforts to reform Yemen's judiciary and security sectors as they are the most important sectors to focus on when attempting to eradicate the practice of bribery being that bribery is most widely practiced within them.
The study also stressed the importance of increasing awareness and supporting mass media to work in warning the public about the harmful effects of bribery.
Moreover, the study called for calculating government employee salary according to the minimum requirements needed to ensure a decent life, as this would help the employee to keep his dignity and not resort to bribery in order to face increasing financial demands.
Lastly, the study called for enacting more strenuous and just bribery laws.