Better services can beat bribery

One in three Greeks admit that they have resorted to bribery in order to get served by a public administrative body, according to a survey by Transparency International which local entrepreneurs have used to propose a solution to Greek corruption. Generally, the poor quality of public service in the domains of health and the environment lead to corruption all over the world. The Transparency International survey links the corruption index with the quality of service in the public sector and the strictness of environmental conditions that the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV) has assessed to recommend some solutions. In its Competitiveness Bulletin for December 2007, SEV notes that in all countries with low levels of bribery, state expenditure on health is much higher than in countries with medium or high levels of bribery. It also argues that in countries where bribery is rare, private spending on health is somewhat lower compared with countries where bribery is particularly common. SEV further notes that in countries with fewer bribery cases, there are apparently stricter environmental protection rules. Greece lags considerably in these two categories from its countries of reference. The SEV bulletin breaks countries down into three categories according to the frequency of graft in the health and environment sectors. The first category includes countries with a good performance on the World Bank’s quality of governance index and low levels of graft. The second, which also includes Greece, has countries with a moderate performance and the third has the countries with the worst. SEV notes that it is not clear to what extent corruption is the cause or the effect of other social phenomena, such as a large black economy, inequality and poverty, reduced productivity, ineffective distribution of resources and a decline in growth rates. On Greece, SEV says monitoring these two indices makes sense only if this can be used to take some specific measures to improve living standards in the country. The improvement of the institutional and regulatory frameworks, besides increasing productivity and improving the business environment, can contribute significantly to a reduction in corruption. This in turn would contribute to improving state services in sectors such as health, education and the protection of the environment. It also stresses that Greece’s low score on various other indices illustrates that the problems in the above sectors do exist and should be taken into account when policies are planned.