2018-CGS-36: Mains Revision-25: Corruption, RTI, Transparency, Citizen Charters, Public Service

Can better pay and privatisation reduce corruption?

Corruption which is breeding like a cancer in the Indian society is a root cause of many socio-economic problems. The proposed solutions to combat corruption include

  • Better pay scale for the government employees
  • Privatisation

Augusto Lopez-Claros, then director of the Global Indicators Group at the World Bank in 2014, came out with six strategies to combat corruption, which included

  • Pay civil servants well
  • Create transparency and openness in government spending
  • Cut red tape
  • Replace regressive and distorting subsidies with targeted cash transfers.
  • Establish international conventions to control cross-border corruption
  • Deploy smart technology to deliver more e-governance.

In the last two decades India has adopted all these six strategies with great vigour but the efficacy of these steps in combating corruption is debated aggressively.

Better pay, reduced corruption?

  • In 2010 at Ghana, in a bid to reduce endemic corruption on its highways, decided to double the wages of its traffic policemen.
  • The studies of the aftermath impact revealed that rather than reducing corruption, the salary policy significantly increased collection as well as the value of bribes by the police, and the amounts given by truck drivers to policemen in total.
  • Corruption in neighbouring Burkina Faso, which paid its employees less than Ghana, was no different in scale and intensity
  • Studies on employee behaviour in public hospitals of South Africa found that wage levels had little to do with corruption. The better paid and the worse paid were equally corrupt, but hospitals which had better audit and supervision mechanisms reported lower levels of corruption compared to those with laxer supervision and control.

Better pay , reduced corruption?

  • Most bank failures witnessed in India have been in the cooperative space, or private banks.

Way forward:

Hence instead of knee-jerk responses like pointing to pay disparities or ownership, the government needs to urgently tighten scrutiny and oversight mechanisms to combat corruption in the public service domain.

Corruption Perception Index

Corruption Perceptions Index is published Transparency International an international non-governmental organization which is based in Berlin, Germany. The index is based on perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion survey.

The index ranks 180 jurisdictions by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people and uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 denotes highly corrupt and 100 very clean.

Findings of the report for 2017

  • India was ranked at the 81st place with a score of 40.
  • India has been ranked worse than China and Bhutan in terms of ‘corruption perception’, but fares better than its other neighbours including Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Pakistan was ranked at the 117th place with a score of 32, Bangladesh at 143th (score of 28), Myanmar at 130th (score 30) and Sri Lanka 91st (score 38).
  • Bhutan has the best score of 67 among India’s neighbours and has been placed high on the index at the 26th place.
  • China also fared better than India with a rank of 77 and score of 41.
  • New Zealand and Denmark have topped the list, while Syria, South Sudan and Somalia have been ranked the lowest with scores of 14, 12 and 9 respectively.
  • The best performing region is Western Europe with an average score of 66.
  • The worst performing regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (average score 32) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (average score 34).
  • Among BRICS countries South Africa is ranked the best (71st), followed by China and India, while Brazil is at 96th and Russia at 135th.

Analysis of the findings

  • There is a high variance in public sector corruption across the Asia Pacific region as more than half of the countries in the Asia Pacific score less than 50 on the index.
  • While corruption continues to be a rampant problem across the region, improvements will only be made if there is strong political will for change and if a comprehensive strategy is adopted, not one based on isolated actions.

Political Interference and Corruption

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana is a flagship scheme of government under which the government aims to provide all-weather access to unconnected habitations. The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) is a 100% Centrally Sponsored Scheme. 50% of the Cess on High Speed Diesel (HSD) is earmarked for this Programme.

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