TI Rwanda launches Rwanda Bribery Index 2016

Transparency International Rwanda (TI-RW) publishes the annual Rwanda Bribery Index, a survey mapping incidences of bribe encounter in Rwanda. This year’s edition marks a turning point in mapping not only bribe incidences in public and private institutions but also focusing on services, which are frequently a source of bribery in Rwanda.

The survey was conducted on the nationwide sample of 2373 adult citizens representing the adult population of Rwanda, which reaches 6,206,552 in 2016[1]. The method employs a structured face-to-face questionnaire, which investigates true incidences of bribe encounter in the last 12 months prior the survey. Data quality assurance has included this year extensive training for data collectors, rigorous data supervision and, automatized geographic information system positioning on the 10% of the sample. The data sample is calculated at the significance level of 0.05 which provides 95% confidence in the data reliability.

This year reveals mixed messages on the success of the fight against corruption in Rwanda. 24.4% of adult Rwandans encountered bribe in the last 12 months, which marks an increase of 7 per cent compared to 2015. If extrapolated to the population nationwide, the absolute number of Rwandans being offered a bribe or demanding a bribe directly or indirectly has reached more than 1.5 million people in 2016! When cross-checked with other indicators, the data suggests that petty corruption and bribery is on the increase in Rwanda.

It is estimated that corrupt transactions calculated as an average of bribe per transaction multiplied by corrupt transactions nationwide has reached staggering 35.5 billion RWF in last 12 months. This amount represents financial resources that could be spent more productively on other vital services. For example, bribes in schools and universities amount to resources by the state for 12 year education of 605,437 students! If there was no bribe in the local government, 147,778 families of four could have been provided with Ubudehe category1 for one year (240,000 RWF) with the total amount of bribes paid in the last 12 months! All bribes taken together in last 12 months amount to 94% of Agaciro development fund accumulated in last 5 years. These figures show that the cost of corruption on the Rwandan society is still huge.

When looking at institutions and services most endangered by bribery, traffic police, private sector especially in recruitment, Rwanda Revenue Authority, judicial police and universities take the lead.

Corrupted people in the high demanded services of Local government and police received almost two thirds of the total amount of bribes. It is also obvious that bribery aggravates social inequality and hampers access to services for the poor. Average bribe to judicial police amounts 147 tsd RWF. Banks cash in on average 88tsd RWF per bribe. It takes further 32tsd RWF to get a service from a local government entity. Health and private sector come at the ‘cheapest’ price.

Given the fact that 43% of respondents indicate monthly income of less that 10tsd RWF per month, it takes four months for a poor person to ‘save’ for a bribe at a university or almost 9 months to haul enough money to bribe a bank!

An innovative approach this year has enabled to look at a selection of concrete services, which are prone to bribery. Getting a driving license, an aspiration of especially young people, would cost 155 tsd. FRW on bribe. Alarmingly, despite a lot of effort to make recruitment in the public and private sector transparent, recruitment is very prone to bribe in both private and public institutions. To get a job at the local government costs on average 150tsd RWF. One can also bribe out of being taxed. It costs on average 87tsd RWF. To reduce the tax level would come cheaper but still costs 62tsd RWF. Needless to say, these resources are stolen from the Rwandan society on the expense of personal enrichment of a few.

The survey acknowledges that corruption in Rwanda remains in check. The accumulated amount of the bribery experienced in 2016 reaches around 0.5% of Gross Domestic Product of Rwanda. This is still quite a negligible number compared even to developed countries in Europe. However, the evidence suggests that bribery is still a problem that does not seem to be reducing over time, quite on the contrary.

To remedy the cost of corruption, a few simple measures can be put in place at little or no cost. Awareness campaigns against corruption need to be sustained towards different audiences. It is pertinent that key institutions, namely the Office of the Ombudsman lead the fight with evidence-based and targeted campaigns in institutions and in services which are most prone to corruption. Bottom-up accountability of institutions towards citizens needs to be strengthened beyond rhetoric. Meaningful citizen participation in planning and budgeting as well as responsiveness of the authorities to whistleblowers and complaints are the key for success.

New laws which will make embezzlement a punishment eligible under the anti-corruption legislation are commendably in the pipeline. This laws need to be passed urgently and asset recovery needs to be sped up. Again, police, prosecution and Ombudsman need to work on their investigation capacity to redouble the successes achieved in the field of asset recovery.

New tools need to be introduced to close or at least mitigate the loopholes in obtaining certain services. It must be made harder to bribe for a driving license or construction permit.  E-solutions, cashless payments, service charters and other tools are a step in the right direction but they may not provide the ultimate solution. There needs to be a true zero tolerance to corruption, especially exercised by the public. Reporting of bribery is still a challenge and needs to be further supported by the authorities and the civil society. Unreported crime of bribery means committing a crime twice and aggravating the cost of corruption to all Rwandans.

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