International watchdog Transparency International (TI) has released a year-long survey on corruption in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA). The report’s key findings state that nearly one in three individuals in MENA countries have paid bribes to government officials.
According to an official statement by the organisation, the survey aims to give a voice to ordinary citizens’ views and experiences of corruption and to help hold governments account for their actions by stopping public sector graft.
TI spoke to 10,797 adult respondents between September 2014 and November 2015 in nine countries and territories, including: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Tunisia, and Yemen.
“It is as if the Arab Spring never happened,” said José Ugaz, the chairman of TI. “Leaders who fail to stop secrecy, fail to promote free speech and fail to stop bribery also fail to bring dignity to the daily lives of people living in the Middle East and North Africa.”
In Egypt, the survey did not ask about Members of Parliament as the parliament was dissolved at the time the survey was in progress, TI stated. However, in Egypt the survey tackled corruption among presidency officials, court officials and in the public service sector.
Paying bribes is very common in Egypt, Morocco and Sudan, according to the survey’s findings, with 50% of respondents saying that they have bribed government officials.
When asked about the level of overall corruption in the public sector, 25% of respondents said there is corruption in most entities while 48% of respondents said corruption was only present in some entities and 12% of the respondents said the public sector has no corruption.
The survey indicated a severe bribery problem in Egypt, Sudan, Morocco, and Yemen in particular. In Palestine, Jordan, Algeria and Tunisia, public services are relatively free of corruption.
The report’s findings indicates that 40-60% of bribes in Egypt are paid to courts, followed by 31-45% of bribes that are paid to police, utility authorities, ID and voter card permit authorities, and officials at public hospitals. Statistics also indicate that 16-30% of bribes are paid to public schools.
More than half of the respondents in Egypt said the government is not doing enough to fight corruption.
In early March, months after the convention of Egypt’s parliament, Wala Gad Al-Karim, the director of Partners for Transparency (PFT), a local corruption observatory, said that PFT has not seen legislative action to curtail corruption.
He added there is an urgent need for legislative reform in addressing corruption. However, the parliament is still busy discussing its internal regulations and problems that plague some of its members.
Al-Karim further asserted that the foundation has noted a marked gap between a political discourse which purports to curtail corruption and legislative policies to address corruption.