ECONOMY

Low score on corruption front

Some 5 billion euros are estimated to be laundered in Greece on an annual basis, versus 1.6 billion euros two years ago, according to bank officials and government sources. The growing extent of corruption in Greece has been confirmed by a recent World Bank report that shows that Greece is losing the battle against graft, which costs businesses and the Greek taxpayer 3.5 billion euros each year. This figure consists of almost 1.2 billion euros handed over by businesses to push through requests or speed up red-tape procedures. Greece’s position slipped last year in four of the six indices used to measure transparency and the government efficiency of a country. Greece fell far short of the averages shown by Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and European Union countries. The lack of transparency in Greece compares the country to levels seen in Costa Rica, Chile and Mauritius, according to the World Bank. Annual reports from the World Bank on governance and transparency levels show that Greece is losing ground in comparison with 2007 on indices measuring freedom of speech, political stability, the quality of the legal framework and controlling corruption. There was, however, an improvement in the area of government efficiency and level of trust shown in laws. Scores obtained in all areas were considered average, with only a good score appearing regarding the institutional framework. Greece scored 60.9 units in 2008 as regards monitoring corruption when the OECD average stood at 90.2 units. The average among developed nations, which includes Greece, was above 81 units. On an international level, there have been improvements in the fight against corruption in the last decade but not as much as there should have been, the World Bank points out. Developing countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic have been improving at a faster rate than developed countries such as Italy and Greece, it adds.