Corruption thrives when public accountability is weak. Nature of corruption differs with the countries. Corruption is a misuse of power that is done in cash (bribe), kinds and favour by violating formal rules in pursuit of private benefit. Corruption undermines citizen’s confidence in democratic institutions and the rule of law; it hurts the economy and deprives states of much-needed tax revenue. It reduces the role of the state to deliver even a small service in time.
The EU has published its first Anti-Corruption Report on 3rd of February 2014. According to the EU reports there is ‘breath-taking’ level of corruption in the region, especially in Greece, Romania and Bulgaria. “There are estimations that a corruption cost in the European Union is no less than 120 billion euros each year, and that is the equivalence of an EU annual budget. Corruption is considered rare in Denmark, Finland and Sweden. It named Greece as the worst performer in the EU. Denmark was seen as the least corrupt. Construction companies, which often tender for government contracts, are the most affected. Corruption is costing $185 billion a year across European Union’s 28 countries. According to UN Office of Drugs and crime every year $1 trillion are paid in bribes globally while an estimated $2.6 trillion are stolen annually through corruption – a sum equivalent to more than 5 per cent of the global GDP.
By undermining the problem the Director of Transparency International’s EU Office Carl Dolan, said “Europe’s problem is not so much with small bribes on the whole,” as Romania and Bulgaria are new member of the union where corruption is rampant. The report was published shortly after Romania’s former prime minister, Adrian Nastase, was sent to jail for four years for taking bribes. The EU has repeatedly raised concerns about a failure to tackle high-level graft in Romania and Bulgaria, the bloc’s two poorest members. Chris Morris reports for BBC News (2014) – ‘‘the report has not been without controversy’’ and ‘‘its release was delayed for months’’, and ‘‘some countries were critical of the European Commission for interfering in areas which they believed were none of its business’’.
In his paper John Hooker (2008) says ‘‘A bribe ‘buys’ a relationship only until the next bribe is required.’’ Hooker takes an example of corruption in connection between Enron Company and Indian controversial Dabhol power plant in Maharashtra when P V Narasimha Rao was Prime minister. Prominent journalist Raghu Dhar was offered a lucrative job by Enron ‘‘to withdraw his opposition’’ and to support Enron’s activities. The BJP eventually backed off from the Enron deal when it took power, despite appeals from U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of State Colin Powell to honour the commitment Hooker (2008).
Corruption is a social enemy. Its greatest victims are the most vulnerable groups in society – the poor, women and children, the sick and the old. For those in a developing country who cannot access health care, education or even food and water without paying bribes, corruption is a daily problem. It is well-known that corruption arrests economic development, and it often remains entrenched because a rich and corrupt elite has a strong self-interest in retaining power. According to Hooker western cultures are primarily rule-based tend to trust the system. While people from rest of the world trust their friends and family that is relationship-based cultures. Bribery tends to be more prevalent in relationship-based cultures because building a relationship requires time and effort (Hooker 2008).
Some academics have agreed that in a situation of transition and transformation ‘‘graft may be beneficial’’ (PG Meon and K Sekkat 2005). So-called ‘‘grease the wheels’’ hypothesis put forward by Leff (1964), Huntington (1968) and lays (1965) states that graft may act as a trouble –saving device, thereby rising efficiency, investment and, eventually, growth (PG Meon and K Sekkat 2005). By giving an example of Philippines P Baradan says corruption is ‘speedy money’ that helps to ‘move files quickly’ may actually improve efficiency and help growth (P Baradan 1997). Hence government must be able to bring ‘black money’ into investment by directing them through the white channels until efficiency is fully achieved.
Transparency is the greatest enemy of corruption. Cutting aid does nothing to eradicate bribery but supporting accountability mechanisms work. Government, Private sector, donor and media can work together to minimise the corruption.