Reasons for corruption

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โˆ™ 2013-03-27 16:00:19

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Low salaries

Corruption is often attributed to the low salaries of civil servants. This differentiates between need driven (satisfying basic requirements for survival) corruption and greed driven (satisfying desires for status and comfort that salaries cannot match) corruption.

It may be true that it is more difficult to stay honest, hard-working and trustworthy on a low salary, but it is also true that most people with low salaries are still able to do so and that many corrupt officials are people in high, responsible positions, earning good salaries.

In conjunction, corrupt practices flourish in systems where employees have high job security; where the level of professionalism in the public service is low; and hence officials rather serve their own interests than perform their duty to serve the public. However, low salaries are not a valid reason for and do not justify corruption. Culture A gift culture exists, particularly in Africa, in which it is tradition that a small reward is paid for services rendered. Such a gratuity or tip becomes part of the cultural environment and in certain countries the payment of such rewards is so embedded in tradition that any attempt to rein in the practice would be seen as an attack on treasured cultural values. In Africa, this was traditionally seen as awarding special honours to the Chief and, in this light, it often regarded as acceptable and "normal" for politicians to accept such rewards. In some countries it is common practice in the commercial arena for business transactions to be accompanied by the giving of personal gifts or benefits, ranging from the Christmas bottle of whiskey to much more elaborate and extravagant items. In essence, the root of corruption is greed rather than culture, public life requires a standard of its own; and those entering public office must be made aware of this from the outset. The absence of rules, regulations, policies and legislation All organisations, whether public or private sector, must have rules, regulations and policies that guide management and other employees in terms of acceptable behaviour and conduct within the organisation. Rules, regulations and policies are instrumental in organising people, steering them towards a common goal and ensuring that everyone is treated fairly and equally. In order to be effective, such rules and policies must be clearly communicated to all individuals in order to be understood and applied objectively. Corruption is more likely to flourish in an organisation that does not have a wide range of rules, regulations or policies that guide employees in their work. Similarly, a country must have clear policies and legislation that guide the behaviour of all citizens and residents within that country. However, organisations and countries must strike a reasonable balance in terms of policies and legislation; whilst corruption flourishes in an environment without clear rules and regulations, similarly, corruption finds fertile in a country that has a numerous laws, rules and regulations that restrict business and economic activities. Such a climate creates industries' dependence on individual civil servants to engage in economic activity; thereby circumventing bureaucratic red tape through corrupt offers. Range of discretion No system can exist unless one person or authority is used, to some extent, to make decisions. Such a person is said to have the power to exercise discretion - the freedom to act within certain limits. Corruption takes place in institutions where public officials: • have great authority; • can exercise discretion with respect to interpretation and application of regulations; • are not required to be accountable to anyone; and • are driven by greed. Therefore, an environment with a higher range of discretion without accountability is more conducive to corruption. In conjunction, political office is one of the primary means of gaining access to wealth in less developed countries. If corruption occurs on the top level and the political leadership of the country does not set a good example with respect to honesty, credibility, transparency, integrity and the persecution of offenders, citizens become disillusioned and offenders are not deterred from entering into corrupt practices. The absence of transparency Where there is no transparency in an organisation, i.e. where tasks and functions are conducted in secret and are not open to examination by other government officers or the public, the opportunity for corruption increases. Transparency is a prerequisite for democracy in which sovereignty is vested in the people and the conduct of civil servants must be open to examination. It is therefore vital that citizens in general and the media (radio, television, newspapers) in particular are guaranteed the right to freedom of speech; the media can inform citizens of any action by a civil servant that might be corrupt in nature and appropriate calls for action can be made. A transparent system deters corruption as the conduct of civil servants is under constant scrutiny. The absence of accountability In a democracy, public leaders and civil servants must be accountable to the people they serve. Accountability means that public leaders and officers must provide logical and acceptable explanations for their actions and decisions to the people they serve. Civil servants and officers in responsible positions must at all times adhere to the principles of transparency and be accountable to the people they serve. However, accountability is dependent on the enforcement of rules, regulations and policies, if there is a lack of effective institutional mechanisms civil servants cannot be held accountable and corrupt practices can flourish. The absence of a watchdog institution If there are no internal or external institutions or bodies that investigate cases of corruption or that act on complaints relating to corruption, employees may take advantage of the fact that the chance of being caught doing something corrupt is remote. Even if the offender is caught, the consequences would probably be minimal if the system has no watchdog function. Corruption in less developed countries Although corruption is a universal phenomenon and exists in all countries, it is a more serious matter in less developed countries. The conditions of these countries are such that corruption is likely to have different causes and consequences than in more developed countries. The socio-economic conditions in low income countries are more conducive to the growth of corruption. Corruption is a symptom of deep-rooted economic and political weaknesses and shortcomings in the legislative and judicial system of the country. To aggravate the situation, accountability in these countries is generally weak, the chances of being caught are small and the penalties when caught are light. Non-governmental organizations that could serve as watchdogs and provide information on corrupt practices are generally not well developed.

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