Transparency Maldives’ Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) survey has revealed that 83 percent of people surveyed felt corruption had increased or stayed the same during the past two years.
The survey of 1,002 people – randomly selected and interviewed by telephone – showed respondents to perceive the People’s Majlis as the country’s most corrupt organisation, with 60 percent feeling the legislature to be ‘extremely corrupt’.
Religious organisations were perceived as the least corrupt organisation, with 37 percent of those asked stating definitively that these organisations were ‘not corrupt’.
Speaking at today’s launch event, President of the Anti-Corruption Commission Hussain Luthfy expressed concern at the indicators, noting a clear lack of trust in state institutions.
With local council elections fast approaching, Luthfy pointed out that a failure to reform local government could also be considered corruption.
“In the past five years, the governance system has been so expensive it has impacted the basic public services. Harbors and schools are falling into disrepair.”
Luthy suggested that the current model “bleeds” MVR800 million from the state’s expenditure each year – nearly five percent of the most recently proposed budget.
When submitting the 2014 budget – currently undergoing revisions – Finance Minister Abdulla Jihad urged the state to reduce the size of local level government.
The current model of more than 1,000 elected councillors established by the Decentralisation Act passed in 2010 by the then-opposition majority parliament was branded “economic sabotage” by the incumbent Maldivian Democratic Party (MDP) government, which had proposed limiting the number of councillors to “no more than 220.”
Luthfy went on to urge more transparency within government companies in order to foster an atmosphere in which corruption can be addressed proactively. He suggested that government owned companies often pass resolutions to obstruct the ACC’s investigations.
In a separate statement today, Luthfy argued said the biggest obstacle to the ACC’s fight against corruption was the absence of an anti-corruption bill. He called upon the Majlis – currently considering such a bill – to take the initiative in fighting corruption.
Today’s GCB launch was accompanied by the introduction of a corruption education pack, including five booklets intended to spread awareness of corruption and its impacts on society.
Whilst the GCB figures showed a strong belief that ordinary people could make a difference in the campaign against corruption – with 84 percent agreeing to this statement – the results revealed a lack of will to take action.
Asked if they would be willing to sign a petition asking the government to do more to fight corruption, 86 percent of those surveyed said they wouldn’t. 70 percent said they would not take part in demonstrations against corruption, whilst 61 percent refused to even to raise awareness of corruption through social media.
The most common area in which bribes were paid was said to be land services, with the most frequent reason for giving bribes being ‘to speed things up’.
Earlier this week the ACC alleged corruption in the award of apartments to individuals as part of the Veshifahi Malé housing programme, ordering the invalidation of 139 of the 448 successful applications.
891 GCB respondents stated that they would report an incident of corruption, although only 3 percent admitted to having personally paid a bribe. 85 percent of those who admitted to being asked to pay a bribe said they had refused.
The sample of people interviewed were predomantly male (66 percent) and from urban settings (65 percent). One quarter of respondents worked in the public sector, with 63 percent described as earning a ‘medium’ scale income.
Transparency Maldives, the local chapter of Transparency International (TI)describes the GCB as one of the tools it uses to better understand corruption.
The group’s most widely used indicator – the Corruption Perceptions Index – was released last week. For the second consecutive year the Maldives was not ranked after TI was unable to gather the necessary data.