UN: Half of all Afghans bribed public officials

The cost of corruption in Afghanistan has risen sharply and half of all citizens paid a bribe to public officials last year, a new United Nations study said.

More than 11 years after a US-led invasion led to billions of dollars in aid flowing into one of the world’s poorest countries, Afghanistan ranks among the most corrupt nations on earth.

And Western nations due to pull their troops out next year have linked future financial support to a crackdown on graft.

The report by the UN office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Afghanistan’s anti-corruption unit says that while there has been “some tangible progress”, the total cost of corruption increased to $3.9bn (€2.9bn) in 2012 — 40% up on 2009.

“The bribes that Afghan citizens paid in 2012 equals double Afghanistan’s domestic revenue, or one-fourth of the Tokyo pledge,” the report says, referring to the $16bn promised by donors at a conference in Japan last year.

More than 68% of those surveyed considered it acceptable for a civil servant to top up a low salary by accepting small bribes — up from 42% in 2009.

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