Money – such a normal, but also powerful word. There is a common saying that who has the money has the power, and the basic rule of this phenomenon is that money rules the world. Therefore,  it could be thought that if something is impossible, the best solution will be the money. If you pay some ‘extra’ cash under the table, then magically, everything will look quite simple and become possible. And this is just a short explanation how corruption works.

According to J. Williams and M. Beare, organizations such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO) or the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have a convergent opinion about corruption and its dominant attributes. First of all, there is a conviction that corruption has increased to epidemic levels, and the globalization provided opportunity for this growth. The next attribute which is pointed out, is the fact that it was defined almost exclusively in terms of bribery and attributed to non-democratic and highly centralized political and economic systems (Beare, 2002: 89).

Corruption has an enormous impact on many spheres – political, economic, social and environmental. In politics, corruption is a threat to democracy and the rule of law. Because of this, the democratic institutions lose their legitimacy when they are misused for private advantage.  Like some kinds of transnational organized crime, such as trafficking in persons, drug trafficking, illicit traffic in weapons or money laundering, corruption poses a threat not only to human security, but also to the security of the state (O’Brien, 2013: 291). On the economic front, corruption destroys the fair market and competition. Hence, for the society, it is the reason for not to trust the government and leaders (Transparency International, 2015).

And what do people think about corruption? Many could say that it is a cause of the persistence poverty in many countries. For the poorest it is often a solution to all sorts of problems that they face, for example with health care or access to basic services (Hudson, 2015). But this is not perfect, because it does not help them in the long term – on the contrary, it deepens the general problem.  And then it is like the vicious circle.

Thus, how can be this problem solved? Let’s see how Albania tries to figure it out.

According to the Transparency International’s 2014 Corruption Perception Index, which measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 175 countries (where the 1st is the least corrupt and 175th the most), Albania takes 110th place and the political parties, judiciary medical health services and education system are the most corrupt. In addition to that, in a 2011 study, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said Albanian citizens ranked corruption as the second most important problem after unemployment.

albania - corruption
A chart from ‘Corruption in Albania: Bribery as experienced by the population’, UNODC Report, 2011.

Almost 100% of bribes are paid in cash (literally 99,5%), so this could be the proof that money is a basic ‘tool’ of corruption. The remaining part, which is 0,5%, is given in the shape of valuables (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2011:17).

In the last decade, awareness of the problem of corruption in this country has highly increased. To decrease it, there have some conventional measures been taken. For example, Albania ratified two Council of Europe Conventions –the Criminal Law Convention against Corruption (2001) and the Civil Law Convention against Corruption (2000). In 2006, Albania also became party to the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) (UNODC, 2011:9).

But there have some unconventional measures been taken as well. When in 2013 Edi Rama become the Prime Minister, he decided to throw down the gauntlet in order to improve Albania’s domestic and international position. Apart from improving the administrative system and the rule of law, there have been created a special online portal, where all of the citizens who have to, for example, pay for better treatment in hospitals or other institutions to speed something up, can easily report it. But still 30% of the bribes are offered by Albanians themselves (Bloomer, 2015).

However, still looking at UNODC report, less than 1 per cent of Albanian citizens who experience bribery actually report the incident. They do not want to do it because they see it as a common practice (45%), because they give bribes voluntarily as a sign of gratitude (13%) or they think reporting is pointless, because nobody would care (29%) (UNODC, 2011:8).

Due to the level, on which the corruption is expanded, these corruption decreasing measures are surely not enough, and there is still a need to find a ‘happy medium’ because this problem will be still one of the world’s most important.

Maybe “a better understanding of the reasons why bribes are paid and the identification of specific issues, such as the quality of services“– like for example, the reduction of health service waiting times or streamlining in the fining procedure – could be an additional to implementation of all of these specific measures (UNODC, 2011:47).

Anna Rainko


References:

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