Now there’s a question.
We could even break it down further… It’s not a bribe, it’s a facilitation payment.
Actually, it’s not even a facilitation payment. It’s just ‘the way things happen’.
The size of the Problem
It’s a global issue, which arguably doesn’t have a globally effective response.
There are a number of pieces of legislation in place with extraterritorial reach – notably the longstanding US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and the relatively recent (and as yet largely untested) UK Bribery Act.
There are also a number of NGO’s who are really active in this area and doing loads of great work.
Transparency International – they have recently published the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer (the catalyst for this blog). Overall, more than one in four people (27 per cent) report having paid a bribe in the last 12 months when interacting with key public institutions and services.
Global Witness campaigns to prevent companies, governments and the international financial system from facilitating corruption on a grand scale. I’d recommend you check out an excellent video they posted recently, where co-founding director Charmian Gooch gives a talk about the drivers of corruption, and what can be done about them. Some incredible case studies mentioned – ones we talk also about in our courses.
Finally I’d highly recommend following Global Financial Integrity and the wider Financial Transparency Coalition. I particularly like reading what Tom Cardamone and Ann Hollingshead have to say.
Too big to blog on
This blog might read like a bit of a brain dump based loosely around the topic. To be fair, to a large extent it is. I make no apologies though. I’m not sure I can write enough about a subject this big in a single blog – hence me pointing you in the direction of those above.
But I thought I might finish with a quick example.
A decade or so ago, I went to India on holiday. I arrived armed with various amounts of duty-free. I’d been awake for about 24 hours. We flew overnight, arriving into India in the bright sunshine and sweltering heat, somewhat disorientated (not from the duty-free, I should add).
Passport check on arrivals was done by what appeared to be senior army chaps. Who were gleefully inspecting the bright yellow bags of duty-free.
When it was my turn, I was taken to one side and told I wasn’t allowed to bring my duty-free into India. I assured the gentleman that I was, and was in response then shown a hand-written tariff badly written on a crumpled piece of paper. Apparently these were the ‘official’ charges for bringing in duty-free items. They were considerably more than the value of the duty-free goods I had on me.
I explained my conundrum to this army passport bloke. He said he could see my problem, but explained I didn’t need to worry. All I had to to do was put a nice crisp £10 note in my passport – that way, when he checked it, there wouldn’t be an issue with my duty-free.
So what did I do?
I did as he said of course. It’s ‘just the way things happen…’ I figured.
I wouldn’t be so keen now. But if you find yourself in the situation where you are between a rock and a hard place, it’s easy to see why stopping bribery and corruption happening is a lot harder than going along with it.