NEWS

Corruption down in Greece, report finds

A joint report by the corruption watchdog Transparency International and polling firm Public Issue on Tuesday showed that incidents of graft in the public sector were down for the first time since 2007.

According to the report, which is based on a survey of more than 6,000 respondents, the percentage of Greek households that reported instances of corruption in the state or private sector last year fell to 10.4 percent from 13.4 percent in 2009.

Hospitals continued to top the list of the most corrupt institutions in the public sector while tax offices jumped ahead of town-planning offices. In the private sector, doctors and lawyers received the most bribes, according to the report.

The level of bribes respondents admitted to paying varied with the so-called ?fakelakia? ranging from 150 to 7,500 euros for hospital patients awaiting surgery, between 300 and 15,000 euros for under-the-table payments to tax officials and from 200 to 9,000 euros for securing building permits from town-planning clerks.

Overall some 632 million euros was paid in bribes last year, down 155 million from 2009.

The head of Transparency International?s Athens office, Costas Bakouris, attributed the drop to the repercussions of the government?s austerity drive on household budgets. ?It seems that the austerity measures have had repercussions on the fakelaki,? Bakouris told a press conference.

The extent of the problem of tax evasion in Greece is reflected in the findings of the report as tax offices and offices of the Social Security Foundation (IKA) figure high on the list of the most corrupt institutions, Bakouris said.