Survey/ 52% of citizens say that they have had pressure from public officials to pay bribes, but trust in justice increases

the survey of 52 citizens say that they have had pressure from public officials to give bribes, but trust in justice increases
the survey of 52 citizens say that they have had pressure from public officials to give bribes, but trust in justice increases

The most recent annual report on corruption monitoring in Albania notes a 5 percent decrease in pressure from officials on citizens to accept bribes. A significant part of the citizens surveyed by the Center for Economic Research, about 52 percent of them, affirm that they have had pressure from public officials to give bribes in exchange for solving a problem and for receiving public services.

The authors of the report and other independent experts claim that the causes of the drop in pressure for bribes are the increase in denunciations and trust in the justice bodies on the one hand, as well as the improvement of corruption methods on the other.

The direct pressure of officials on citizens to take bribes in exchange for public services has dropped from 57 (year 2021) to 52 percent this year.

This is the main finding of the annual report on the results of the corruption monitoring system in Albania, published today by the Albanian Center for Economic Research and SELDI, a coalition of 40 organizations Southeast European Leadership for Development and Integrity.

In the study, it is stated that the giving of bribes, or the involvement of citizens in corruption, has decreased this year by nearly 7 percent, following the decrease in the pressure for bribes, as the respondents claim. The authors of the study claimed that the reform in justice, the opening of negotiations with the EU, the increase in the number of denunciations in the Special Structure Against Corruption and Organized Crime (SPAK) are having their impact on the public perception of corruption.

The head of the Center for Economic Research, Zef Preçi, one of the authors of the study, says that citizens' resistance to corruption is still weak, while the majority of them give bribes under the pressure of officials, but they keep their hopes in the new bodies of of justice, which have increased general trust and brought a new climate both in the administration's step to not violate the laws and in encouraging increased denunciations of corrupt acts.

"For the first time, the corrupt pressure of the public administration is reduced, as well as the trust of the citizens towards the justice institutions, which fight this phenomenon, is improved. These are the first fruits of the justice reform, which is also influencing the public's perception", said Mr. Preçi. In this year's study, it is also said that the number of citizens who do not accept corruption as a phenomenon has increased by 5 percent (from 60% in 2021 to 65% today), however, more than half of the respondents claim that they will they took the bribe, if they were public servants.

Almost 3/4 of the respondents think that corruption cannot be significantly reduced or eradicated. The majority of Albanian citizens continue to show a marked mistrust of anti-corruption policies and strategies undertaken by the government, the study emphasizes.

The investigative journalist, Ola Xama, thinks that Albania has left behind bribery in small numbers between the citizen and the employee, because the contacts between them have been minimized by electronic systems, but this has not reduced corruption, on the contrary, it has now been perfected at high levels methods of corruption among government officials and government client businesses.

"The decrease in the perception of corruption experiences is also related to the impact of some aspects of the new justice system, which were not affected before, and the perception created by the public, that some people go and give an account to the authorities, which before it was. Good or not, selective or not, there are many discussions on these, but people today think that there is an account requirement", says journalist Xama.

The authors point out in the annual study that "the reform in justice has slightly "scared" the officials, as well as the increase in denunciations from the investigative media as well as the SPAK investigations have influenced their tendency to ask for bribes". The groups perceived by the public as the most corrupt are political parties, customs officials, judges, prosecutors and officials of the administration of justice, while the least corrupt groups are perceived to be teachers, journalists, university lecturers and municipal councilors.

Researcher Gjergj Buxhuku, who represents the organization AlbKonfindustria, said at the table that he is still skeptical about the results of the fight against corruption so far and that the expectations of citizens and businesses are much higher. "In Albania, there is simple corruption, hybrid and state capture type corruption, which is becoming massive and open. We are in a very serious situation with very serious consequences, which are felt both in the economy and in democracy", says Mr. Buxhuku.

Corruption continues to remain a phenomenon and main concern in the life of Albania. In the report of the European Commission for 2023, it is stated that "Albania has a certain level of preparation in the fight against corruption. Despite some progress and ongoing efforts in the fight against corruption, it remains an area of ​​serious concern." The European Commission estimates that corruption is widespread in many areas of public and business life and that preventive measures continue to have a limited impact. /VOA/

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