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Pakistan among countries with highest bribery rate.

India has got the dubious distinction of having the highest bribery rate in the Asia Pacific, with a survey showing that more than two-thirds of Indians had to pay 'tea money' or fork out other forms of bribe to get public services.

The survey, conducted by international anti-graft rights group Transparency International, found 69pc in India as saying they had to pay a bribe, followed by 65pc in Vietnam. China was much lower at 26pc while the same for Pakistan was 40pc.

Japan had the lowest incidence of bribery -- at 0.2pc. South Korea also fared well at a mere 3pc.

However, it is China which seems to have seen the highest increase, with 73pc in the survey saying the bribery has gone up in their country over the past year while India comes in at seventh place (41pc) -- higher than countries like Pakistan, Australia, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

In the survey of more than 20,000 people in 16 countries spanning the Asia-Pacific region, an estimated 900 million said they had to pay a bribe at least once in the past one year.

The police topped the list of public services most often demanding a bribe while 38pc of the poorest surveyed said they paid a bribe, which is the highest proportion of any income group.

The survey asked people how often they had to pay a bribe, give a gift, or do a favour, including for the police, judge or court officials, teachers, hospital staff or a government official for getting some documents or services.

"Governments must do more to deliver on their anti-corruption commitments. It's time to stop talking and act. Millions of people are forced to pay bribes for public services and it is the poor who are most vulnerable," said Jose Ugaz, chair of Transparency International.

The results show that lawmakers across the region need to do much more to support whistle-blowers and governments must keep promises to combat corruption, including their commitments to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, Transparency International said.

Ugaz further added that "without proper law enforcement corruption thrives. Bribery is not a small crime, it takes food off the table, it prevents education, it impedes proper healthcare and ultimately it can kill".

The survey was part of a regional series for the Global Corruption Barometer.

More than a quarter of people living in Asia had to pay a bribe while trying to access a public service in the past year, the watchdog said, calling on governments to root out endemic graft in the region.

From the results they estimated 900 million people were forced to fork over "tea money" at least once in the previous 12 months.

Bribery rates were highest in India and Vietnam, where nearly two thirds of respondents said they had to sweeten the deal to access basic services like public education and healthcare.

Police were the most common demanders of kickbacks, according to the survey, with just under a third of people who had come into contact with an officer in the past year saying they had paid a bribe.

Yet while poorer people were more likely to be targeted in countries like Thailand, India and Pakistan, the reverse trend was found in places like Vietnam, Myanmar and Cambodia.

When it came to perceptions of corruption Malaysia and Vietnam got the worst ratings from their citizens, who felt graft was widespread and accused their governments of doing little to fight it.

Corruption scandals have rocked a number of governments in Asia over the past year, dominating news headlines and whipping up protests.

South Korea's President Park Geun-hye was impeached by parliament in December over a major influence-peddling scandal that prompted millions to take to the street for months to call for her resignation.

Malaysia has also been seized by a graft scandal since 2015, with global investigators accusing Premier Najib Razak and his associates of misappropriating billions of dollars through the state-backed 1MDB fund.

A report last year by a corruption watchdog also detailed the enormous wealth accumulated by the family and friends of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

China, meanwhile, has been on anti-corruption drive that has netted more than one million officials, while fellow communist country Vietnam has also jailed a number of former businessmen for graft in its bloated state-run sector.

Thailand's junta government has vowed a similar anti-corruption campaign but there have been few convictions so far.
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Publication:Flare
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Mar 31, 2017
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