One in four households in Slovakia that sought help from the Slovak health service over the past year paid a bribe, according to the 2010 Global Corruption Barometer survey, the results of which were released on Thursday, December 9.
The poll was carried out by Transparency International (TI) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) regional centre in Bratislava and the British Embassy in Slovakia. The results for Slovakia were released to mark International Anti-corruption Day at a conference held under the auspices of Justice Minister Lucia Žitňanská.
A total of 90,000 people in 87 countries around the world took part in the survey, with Slovakia joining in for the first time this year. The results also revealed that the Slovak public experienced bribery most frequently at land offices (15.8 percent) and in the courts (14.8 percent).
The public views businessmen (36.9 percent) and officials in state and public administration bodies (25.9 percent) as the most corrupt individuals. Despite the perceived high level of bribery, only 8 percent of Slovaks have made an official complaint. Another third of the respondents said they thought that doing so wouldn't do any good, while a quarter were afraid of possible comebacks.
TI Slovensko director Gabriel Šípoš told the TASR newswire that corruption in Slovakia is more commonplace than in more advanced European countries, where one in 16 people said they had paid a bribe in the past 12 months. By contrast, this is the case for one in four people in Slovakia, he said. Nearly half of Slovaks think that the courts are completely or partly corrupt. When it comes to Europe, only Bulgarians also view the courts as the most corrupt institution, surpassing even political parties. Žitňanská stated that the current government is committed to combating corruption.
One of the reasons patients in Slovakia bribe doctors is their feeling of powerlessness and ignorance of their rights, Šípoš said. "Many people don't know of any alternative," he said, adding that patients often want to ensure better treatment, but can't be sure whether they will actually get it. Generally, around one third of those asked said that they had paid a bribe amounting to €20, while roughly the same number of people said that they had given a bribe of €20-70. Seven percent said that they had provided a bribe exceeding €350.
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.