Uganda has once again emerged the country with the highest levels of bribery in East Africa, according to the East African Bribery Index 2012, a survey by Transparency International.
The survey report, launched in Kampala yesterday, also showed the Uganda Police on top of the list of bribery-prone institutions. The judiciary and land services follow in that order.
Carried out in the five east African countries of Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the survey revealed that, at 40.7%, Uganda has the highest bribery levels in the region, followed by Tanzania (39.1%), Kenya (29.5%), Burundi (18.8%) and Rwanda (2.5%).
The findings are particularly disturbing because they show that the situation in Uganda is not improving. Last year, Uganda polled at 38%. What is more, the respondents (1449) drawn from central, eastern, northern and western Uganda strongly believe that bribery levels will increase in the coming years.
What the results from Uganda mean is that bribery will gravely add to the cost of doing business, which in turn affects production. At a regional level, bribery will adversely affect trade between nations with countries. There is, therefore, need to address the issue.
On the current state of corruption, 82% of respondents observed that corruption levels either remained as bad or increased in the last one year. The biggest reasons given for this trend were the lack of political will to fight the vice and the fact that government officials in Uganda are too corrupt to effectively fight corruption.
The trend, Patrick Kayemba of Transparency International Uganda Chapter said, is worrying. “We are worse off than we were one year ago in spite of having the best anti-corruption institutions in the region. This trend is very, very worrying. We need to ask ourselves, what is happening?”
The police (85) and judiciary (44) ranked the two top most bribery-prone institutions in Uganda followed by Tax services (32.5) land services (26.9) registry and licensing services (23.2), city and local councils (21.8), medical services (20.7) and educational institutions (16.5). Of particular concern is the rise in the probability of a service seeker being required to pay a bribe upon interaction (69.5% in 2010 and 74.1% in 2011).
The police were followed by city and local councils (54.3%), judiciary (49.6%), registry and licensing services (46.1%) and land services (46%). The findings, however, drew sharp criticism from the Commandant of the Police Professional Standards Unit.
“Those people claiming the police are corrupt are the corrupt ones. Do you think you are being sincere? You are trivializing the issue of corruption. To talk about police but you never ask how much it is paid,” Samuel Kyomukama said.
Most of the respondents said they believed bribery solicitation was highest in the judiciary and councils, although those sectors registered the lowest actual payments. The report, however, says the outcome of the police was consistent for the two indicators (48.2%) followed by tax services (40.6) and registry and licensing services (34%).
Asked whether they would have received the services if they had failed to pay a bribe, half of the respondents who paid the bribes believed that was the only way to access services from police (54%), tax services (46.5%), land services (40.5%), registry and licensing services (39.6%) and judiciary (36.6%).
In terms of the average size of the bribe, the judiciary topped (Shs 594,137) followed by land services (Shs 235,259), tax services (Shs 115,500), police (Shs 105,512) and education institutions (Shs 75,322). It is a change from 2010 and 2011 where the police, local authorities and Uganda Revenue Authority topped.
Uganda reported the lowest rate of corruption cases simply because 34.1% of the respondents knew no action would be take even if reported, 17.6% fear intimidation, while 12.8% fear to self-incriminate. Three of every four people interviewed are likely not to report bribery in future because almost half of the reports on corruption don’t get acted upon. The reasons aren’t any different from those cited in the previous years.
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