Over the past year, one in five Slovaks paid a bribe, but only in ten percent of these cases was a bribe requested, according to the results of a survey conducted by Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) in cooperation with the Focus polling agency this January. The survey found that bribery is most widespread in health care, the courts, the prosecution service, at ministries and at tax offices. On the other hand, corruption in the education sector has declined, the survey found.
Speaking at a news conference on Thursday, February 23, Matej Kurian of TIS said that people do not typically pay bribes because they are asked to do so, but because they think it is common practice. In a 1999 survey, 40 percent of those polled admitted to paying bribes; in 2009, the figure had fallen to 27 percent.
TIS pointed out, as reported by the SITA newswire, that in spite of a decline in low-level corruption in everyday life, 88 percent of respondents believed that corruption among politicians and businessmen is on the rise. The survey was carried out after the Gorilla file, involving allegations of high-level corruption, had been widely reported.
During its tenure spanning 18 months, Prime Minister Iveta Radičová's SDKÚ-SaS-KDH-Most-Híd government clearly outperformed the previous Smer-SNS-HZDS government of Robert Fico, which in power for four years, in the area of anti-corruption measures, TIS head Gabriel Šípoš said, as quoted by the TASR newswire. These results came from evaluations by 13 experts, who ranked Fico's government at +13 points on a scale between -300 and +300 points. Radičová's government earned +142.
The current government has made good on several pre-election anti-corruption promises in the areas of justice, access to information and in public procurement, according to Šípoš. He said more moderate progress was observed in pledges related to health care, EU funds and public administration. Conversely, little headway was made in boosting the transparency of political party financing and in supervising the activities of politicians and local municipalities, although the scrapping of MPs' immunity from prosecution for misdemeanours was an exception to this trend.
Meanwhile, the scandal involving the wire-tapping of journalists under former defence minister Ľubomír Galko was seen as a negative element during the Radičová government.
Šípoš said one plus of the Fico government was its introduction of more stringent rules for municipalities, while its revision of the Press Code was a bad move. "The media are highly important in combating corruption," he said.
Sources: SITA, TASR
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
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