By Maja Tuljković – Sarajevo
Corruption in its broadest sense is any abuse of power by a public official or a person who performs a specific public function, and whose goal is personal or material gain. Corruption manifests itself in various ways in different countries, cultures and periods. In some countries, corruption is so widespread that it is considered quite normal, and sometimes an acceptable way of life and business.
In B&H, citizens believe that corruption is the fourth most important problem facing the country, after unemployment, the work of the government and poverty and low standards of life, according to the results of a report called ‘Business, Corruption and Crime in B&H-impact of bribery and other criminal activities in private enterprise’. The report was presented today in Sarajevo on the premises of the EU Delegation, and it was done by the Office of the UN for Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The results of the report showed that every fifth citizens between 18 and 64 years old was exposed (directly or through a family member) to bribery of public officials, and every fifth citizen gave a bribe. When it comes to distribution, there is no significant difference in the prevalence of bribery between urban and rural areas, but bribery is more widespread in the FB&H (25,3 percent) than in the RS (10,5 percent). Also, the rate of prevalence of bribery is 18,2 percent for women and 23,2 percent for men in B&H. It is interesting that women more often pay a bribe in the form of food or drink, while men use money. Nearly 80 percent of bribes in B&H are given in the form of money, and the average amount of bribes is 220 BAM (110 Euros). In 37 percent of cases B&H citizens are the initiators of bribes, and in more than half of the cases a bribe is asked.
The main objectives of bribery, according to the report, are avoidance of paying fines (25 percent) and to accelerate procedures (25 percent), and more than half of those who give bribes in B&H give them to doctors (54 percent) and police (52 percent), and nearly one-third to nurses (31 percent). The practice of avoiding fines is mostly done with police officers. Only 2,4 percent of citizens with experience in bribery reported the incident. Citizens do not report incidents because they have benefits from bribery (26 percent), or because they think that no one cares (26 percent).
B&H, if it wants to become a member of the EU, has to grapple with the problem of corruption as soon as possible, which is slowly but surely entering into every pore of the social, political and economic system of the state.