A World Bank Enterprise survey focusing on bribery in the business sector revealed that 19.2 per cent of Lebanese businesses were subject to at least one bribe request per year. This percentage included bribe requests that took place during a variety of transactions for utilities access, permits, licences and tax.
A total of 561 businesses based in Lebanon were surveyed and it was found that 30.2 per cent of firms were expected to give gifts to secure a government contract.
In addition, 20.9 per cent of firms expressed feeling that they were ‘expected’ to make informal payments or give gifts to public officials to ‘get things done’ with regard to customs, taxes, licenses, regulations and services.
Lebanon ranks the 50th highest among 135 countries around the world where bribery is considered an expectation, reports the Daily Star.
Firms were also presented with a list of obstacles that they faced, and managers were asked to select the biggest obstacles to their business. Topping this list of obstacles was political instability, this was followed by a lack of electricity and third on the list was corruption, closely followed by access to finance.
The survey indicated that more than half of businesses surveyed identified ‘corruption as a major constraint’.
According to anti-corruption advocate and president of Sakker El Dekkene Mr Rabih El Chaer: ‘Fighting corruption is an attitude. There are many means to adopt this way of life especially through an engagement in civil society. Personally, I have made this fight my mission and it is through Sakker el Dekkene that this goal is being perused.’
Mr El Chaer has devoted years of his life to stamping out corruption and has a team of over 400 volunteers who believe in the cause.
‘Sakker El Dekkene is an initiative striving to eliminate corruption. With a core team of 8, supported by more than 430 volunteers.
‘We are also targeting civil servants, citizens involved or victim of bribery, decision-makers and the Lebanese diaspora because they have been keen on helping us in the fight of corruption as they were victims themselves and are not afraid to speak about it,’ he said.
Sakker El Dekkene has been successful in raising awareness with more than 51 million social media impressions and recognition as a Skies Award winner in the category for public awareness.
But as the World Bank survey suggests, more work needs to be done to combat corruption.
Mr El Chaer is urging people to report bribery on the Sakker El Dekkene mobile application ‘Sakkera’ on the organistaion’s website www.sakkera.com.
‘A lot of people are afraid to tell about a bribe, but we respect people’s privacy and secrecy. This is why all of our reports remain anonymous, this way everyone feels comfortable and at ease.
‘Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of efficient actions of the civil society, specifically in anti-corruption battles. This is why I felt the obligation to take action and you can too,’ said Mr El Chaer.