More than 900 million people in 16 Asian Pacific countries are experiencing bribery and corruption, according to a report by Transparency International published Tuesday.
This report was released at a crucial time -- when many governments in the Asia Pacific region are preparing their plans to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The purpose of the SDGs is to establish the priorities for development by 2030, and includes reducing all forms of bribery and corruption, among a list of other issues.
India has the highest rate of bribery among the 16 Asia Pacific countries (69 percent of respondents had paid a bribe for public services), followed closely by Vietnam (65 percent). Japan has the lowest rate, with survey results showing only 0.2 percent of the respondents having paid bribes.
After analysis of the survey results, Transparency International could report that just more than 25 percent of the total people surveyed have paid a bribe to access public services, help from police being the service most demanding of a bribe.
As far as who is coming forward with cash, 38 percent of the poorest people that were surveyed claimed that they had paid a bribe. The poor is the highest proportion of any income group in this region.
In addition, people under 35 are more likely to pay a bribe for public service and women are almost just as likely as men to pay a bribe. Young men and women, as well as the poor, are hit the hardest by bribery demands.
Only two in five of the 22,000 people surveyed thought that the level of corruption had recently increased regionally, but three-quarters of those surveyed in China thought that corruption has definitely increased over the last three years.
“Governments must do more to deliver on their anti-corruption commitments. It’s time to stop talking and act,” said José Ugaz, chair of Transparency International. “Millions of people are forced to pay bribes for public services and it is the poor who are most vulnerable.”
Transparency International advises that the next step is “that governments must keep promises to combat corruption, including their commitments to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.”