The Marga Institute conducted a public opinion survey on bribery and corruption in early 2015.This was one of the first public opinion surveys that Marga conducted after a considerable period of time. Some of the key findings are listed below.
Out of a list of five issues , bribery and corruption was seen by respondents as number 2 issue that needed to be addressed /solved after “cost of living” which was rated as # 1 priority.
Politicians, schools, police and former government were associated (without being prompted) with bribery and corruption by the sample. Unprompted association of incidents of bribery and corruption were:
Alleged acts of bribery and corruption of Former Executive President, Avant Garde incident, School Principals asking for bribes to enlist children at their schools, Corruption at Customs Office and Devinaguma Programme. People generally believe what they have heard about corruption
3 out of 5 persons of the sample stated that bribery and corruption had increased during the previous 5 years (Before 2015)
Police, Customs, Ministries, Schools and Government Department (In that order ) were identified by the sample who was interviewed, as places of high occurrence of bribery and corruption.
Main source of corruption seem to be pointed at Political sector; the Public sector & Education sector were ranked high in terms of bribery and corruption.
Almost 3 out 5 are not aware of existing laws that prevent or prosecute acts of bribery and corruption.
Awareness of the “Right to information Act” and “Declaration of assets and liabilities Law” was low. Out of those who were aware felt that enforcement of these laws would reduce corruption
However majority believes that if laws are enforced strictly it would help reduce bribery and corruption in Sri Lanka.
They also stated that a campaign against bribery and corruption should be launched and school children should be taught ethics and morals in school.
People may still give bribes to get their work done and and in fact 1 out of 3 may give a bribe to get their work done in the future. It appears that bribes are given out of convenience (“we cannot get our work done”) and some do not view it as a bribe but as a tip (As long as it is not demanded)
So we have a culture of bribery and corruption in Sri Lanka?
Some points to consider
Is there a culture of bribery and corruption in Sri Lanka? How does the general public actually view bribery and corruption (Can we bring in shame factor as a constraint?). How can we take forward the “ethical code of conduct for parliamentarians” which was part of President Maithripala Sirisena’s election manifesto? (Especially conflict of interest). How can we make Political Parties more accountable? Can we broaden the scope of declaration of assets and liabilities law? (amend the secrecy clauses regarding the prevention of public dissemination of information that is obtained). Do people condone bribery and corruption as a something inevitable that takes place in the context of development projects? Have development projects brought about s greater opportunity for politicians to engage in corrupt practices?