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article imageReport: Afghans forced to pay billions in bribes

By Owen Weldon     Jan 20, 2010 in World
On Tuesday the United Nations released a report that said Afghans were forced to pay bribes worth almost a quarter of Afghanistan's GDP last year.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released a report that says over the last 12 months Afghans were forced to pay $2.5 billion to public officials. The report that was released was on corruption in the country.
Antonio Maria Costa is the program’s executive director, and he said that the two biggest income-generators in Afghanistan are drugs and bribes. Last year the opium trade was worth more than $2.5 billion.
Costa says that fighting corruption should be the government’s highest priority and that he is urging the new government to make it their highest priority.
President Hamid Karzai is being waited on by The United States and other countries aiding in the war in Afghanistan to form a new cabinet that will be capable of fighting the corruption that is taking place in the country.
Karzai’s nominees have been rejected twice by lawmakers in Afghanistan. It is unlikely that a new cabinet would be formed this month, according to a Karzai’s spokesman.
One out of two Afghans had to pay bribes to a public official, according to the U.N. report. The officials included policemen, politicians, judges or other government officials and they were paid between 2008 and 2009. Many Afghans paid in order to get through red tape or to receive help with poor service.
The requests for money were an explicit demand for cash more than fifty percent of the time. The country’s GDP per capita was $25 per year at the time and the average payout for the bribes was $160.
Afghans looked for other means of security and welfare because they do not trust public figures. More people can fall victim to violent forms of retribution because of the weakening of traditional justice.
More than 7,000 people took part in interviews for the report. Even though corruption is big in Afghanistan, only 9 percent believed that it was worth taking it to the authorities.
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