A recent survey by Integrity Watch Afghanistan (IWA) shows a sharp expansion in corruption in Afghan society. Most Afghans now see the payment of bribes as a routine part of obtaining government services.
In the three years since IWA came out with its previous corruption survey, the amount paid in bribes more than doubled, the watchdog group found. Afghans paid an estimated $1 billion in bribes in 2009, whereas IWA pegged the figure in its 2006 survey at $466 million. More worryingly, so-called commission-kars, or fixers, are seen increasingly as a permanent part of the social landscape. These middlemen are believed to be involved in up to 40 percent of bribery transactions.
Though international attention has focused primarily on high-level corruption, it is the day-to-day graft involved in the provision of basic government services that impacts most Afghans. Overall, 28 percent of Afghan households had to pay a bribe to receive some sort of public service that, under different conditions, should have been easily accessible. One in seven Afghans was directly involved in a corrupt transaction in some manner, either paying or receiving, IWA found.
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Aunohita Mojumdar is an Indian freelance journalist based in Kabul. She has reported on the South Asian region for the past 19 years.