Coalition 2000 Makes Public A New Survey About Corruption BTA - 2000/2/11
Policemen topped the corruption scale, leaving doctors and customs officers a close second and third, a survey conducted by the Coalition 2000 NGO showed in January. Answering the question, "If you were asked for something to have a problem of yours solved in the past year, it was by a...", 23.4 per cent of 1,144 respondents aged 18 or over said it was a policeman. Doctors and customs officers figured respectively in 20 per cent and 19.8 per cent of the answers. Further down the scale came judiciary officials, businessmen and municipal office workers. Parliamentarians trail the table with 1.9 per cent. There have been some positive developments in the Customs, although customs officers still project a negative image, said Alexander Stoyanov, Director of Vitosha Research. Corruption is identified as the fourth most important problem in Bulgaria after unemployment, low incomes and poverty. In September 1999 poverty was considered a less important problem. The desire to get rich quickly, low wages and imperfect legislation are the main factors for the spread of corruption, respondents said. On the whole, the corruption situation is unchanged or slightly better, Stoyanov commented. The downward trend in the tolerance for, and susceptibility to, corruption has continued for several months now. The susceptibility to corruption index dropped from 4.9 per cent in June 1998 to 3.2 per cent in April 1999 and 2.9 per cent in January 2000. However, Bulgarians assess corruption as widespread, which is not true but makes them offer bribes, said Stoyanov. Public opinion ranks customs officers as the most corrupt officials (77 per cent of respondents), followed by lawyers, the tax authorities and policemen. Teachers and journalists are the least corrupt. Corruption is rife in the Customs, the Privatization Agency and the tax authorities, while the Presidency is the least corrupt institution, according to most people. The index of the pressure by civil servants demanding bribes remains stable. Nearly half of respondents said they did not give bribes to public servants over the past year. The level of involvement of the public in corruption activities between June 1998 and January 2000 remained more or less unchanged. People say bribes remain an effective means of solving one's problems. On the whole, they are sceptical about the ability of the public to cope with corruption, which is the most persistent mindset.

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