4% of Maltese paid bribes to receive public services – corruption barometer

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4% of Maltese paid a bribe for public services and 33% used personal connections for the same reason, according to the Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) – European Union released by Transparency International.

The survey in 27 EU countries, conducted locally by MISCO between October and December 2020, also found that 6% of Maltese have experienced sextortion or know someone who has.

Just under half of people (48%) think the government takes people’s views into account when making decisions. 49% believe the government is run by a few big interests.

28% of respondents said they believe corruption has increased in the previous 12 months. 24% said it decreased, 39% said it stayed the same and 9% said they didn’t know.

Only 35% believe they can report corruption without fear of retaliation, with 56% responding ‘no’ and 9% saying they don’t know.

However, 56% believe the government is doing a good job at fighting corruption. 39% said it was doing a bad job and 5% said they don’t know.

Which institutions are perceived as most corrupt?

Respondents were also asked about corruption per institution – whether they believe that all or most of the people within that institution were corrupt.

24% believe that all or most business executives are corrupt. 17% believe that the Prime Minister is corrupt, and 20% think that all or most Members of Parliament are corrupt.

The figures for the rest of the institutions are as follows: President (2%); National government officials (14%); Local government representatives (including mayors) (7%); Police (6%); Judges and magistrates (8%); Bankers (4%); NGOs (7%)

Where the bribes went

When it comes to bribes, 2% said they paid a bribe for services at a public school while 32% used personal connections.

4% paid bribes for services from public health clinics while 31% used personal connections.

5% paid bribes for services related to identity documents, while 28% used personal connections.

4% paid bribes for services related to social security benefits, while 33% used personal connections.

No respondents said they bribed the police, but 32% said they used personal connections.

77% of respondents said ordinary citizens can make a difference in the fight against corruption, while 14% said they do not believe this can happen.

The EU-wide picture

On a wider scale, the Global Corruption Barometer reveals that almost two thirds of people in the EU think that government corruption is a problem in their country. 

The GCB, which surveyed more than 40,000 people in the bloc, asked about people’s views and experiences of corruption. The results highlight some worrying trends across the region.

Almost three in ten EU residents reported directly experiencing corruption, as they paid a bribe or used a personal connection to access public services. This is equivalent to more than 106 million people.

The survey reveals that health care, in particular, has been a corruption hotspot as governments struggled to manage the Covid-19 pandemic. Although just 6% of people paid a bribe for health care, 29% of EU residents relied on personal connections to get medical care. Furthermore, most people don’t think that their government has handled the pandemic in a transparent manner.

“The EU is often seen as a bastion of integrity, but these findings show that countries across the region remain vulnerable to the insidious effects of corruption,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “During a health crisis, using personal connections to access public services can be as damaging as paying bribes. Lives can be lost when connected people get a Covid-19 vaccine or medical treatment before those with more urgent needs. It’s crucial that governments across the EU redouble their efforts to ensure a fair and equitable recovery from the ongoing pandemic.”

 The survey explored other areas related to corruption, such as the ties between business and politics, with over half of respondents thinking their government is run by a few private interests. Bankers and business executives are perceived as more corrupt than any public sector institution in half of the EU. Overall, more than five in 10 people believe that big companies often avoid paying taxes, and that bribes or connections are commonly used by businesses to secure contracts.

Almost a third of people think corruption is getting worse in their country, while almost half of them say their government is doing a bad job at tackling corruption. In addition, only 21% of people think that corrupt officials face appropriate repercussions.

Less than half of people in the EU trust their national government. While the EU institutions fared better (at 56%), the rate of trust remains relatively low.

“These results should be a wake-up call for both national governments and the EU institutions. Corruption is undermining public trust and policy makers need to listen to the concerns of the public,” said Michiel van Hulten, Director of Transparency International EU. “There are many immediate actions that can be taken to remedy these problems, such as increasing lobbying transparency both at the EU and national levels and tackling tax avoidance. And EU policies to protect whistleblowers and fight money laundering must be effectively and swiftly transposed into national law.”

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