Corruption in China, South and Central Asia

One of the major challenges of the developing countries is Corruption. It represents one of the most serious threats to investor confidence and economic growth of a country. The World Bank has estimated that only the global value of bribes is $1 trillion US dollars. This figure does not include embezzlement, theft, misuse of public funds and government procurements.

Transparency international, a non-governmental organization which issues information on corruption, in its 2013 corruption perception index annual report, among 177 nations, has ranked China and some of the South & Central Asian countries as following, the index ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be: China 80, Srilanka 91, India/Philippines 94, Thailand 102, Indonesia 114, Vietnam 102, Bangladesh/Pakistan/Azerbaijan 127, Kazakhstan 140, Kyrgyzstan 150, Tajikistan 154, Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan 168, Afghanistan 175.

The index shows that some of the most corrupt countries are in south and central Asian region. Whereas, countries with the least corruption are mostly in the European Union or North America.

Between, Oct 2011 to Sep 2012, according to official figures, corruption cost $5.92 billion of US dollars in India. To put that in perspective, India’s healthcare budget for the year 2012-2013 was $4.05 billion dollars. Over the last five years, endemic corruption has hampered industrial production, the development of infrastructure and extraction of natural resources. Perhaps the greatest cost has been to India’s social fabric which is being irreparably harmed, leading to a deficit of the public’s trust in government. Though, there has been a number of arrests of senior government officials in India but there hasn’t been any major sentences.

China is also fighting corruption on its turf, though the exact amount of money being usurped by corruption is not available but the amount is for sure in billions of dollars. Just recently, Chinese authorities have seized assets worth at least $14.5 billion US dollars from family members and associates of retired domestic security tsar Zhou Yongkang. Zhou’s illicit assets included bank deposits totaling 37bn yuan, domestic and overseas shares and bonds worth 51bn yuan and 300 apartments and villas worth around about 1.7bn yuan.

Widespread corruption in China is eating away whatever is left of the Chinese Communist Party’s legitimacy. Realizing the seriousness of the problem and its potential to topple the party, the new Chinese rulers have started a campaign to rein in corruption. Only recently, Central Discipline Inspection Committee, the party’s anti-graft watchdog, has arrested 317 senior and middle level officials including more than a dozen ministers and senior executives of state-owned enterprises.

Moreover, in Indonesia more than 8 in 10 Indonesians say that corruption is widespread throughout the nation’s government and businesses. Compared with citizens in other Southeast Asian countries. Indonesians are much more likely to say that corruption is prevalent in both the government and business sectors.

To get relief from the menace of corruption, governments in corruption-stricken China, South & Central Asia must allow anti-corruption agencies to investigate and prosecute corruption independently. Independent and free Anti-graft agencies can bring corruption to light and the corrupt to justice

These countries must make transparency laws more effective, governments should appoint information officers in every public agency responsible for dealing with requests from the public. They should also launch public campaigns to raise awareness about the duty of public bodies to provide them with information.

People who blow the whistle on corruption are exposed to dangerous risks because laws to protect them are either too weak, or unknown and not publicized. Thus, governments should provide a sense of security to whistle blowers and create social awareness about the laws.

Furthermore, Governments should foster a culture of transparency where watchdogs, civil society and the media can make their voice be heard, without retribution, and expect a constructive response from those in power.

Lastly, Governments will find that transparency is the best investment they will ever make. Ordinary people can ensure their communities are served by governments, whistleblowers can save billions by exposing fraud and Trust in politicians will be higher if people know there is a body that will hold the corrupt to account.

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