Turkish Cypriot businesses believe corruption is rife in north
An overwhelming 89% Turkish Cypriot business people believe that bribery and corruption are rife in the north of Cyprus, according to the first ever report of its kind.
Furthermore, 56% believed that it got worse in 2017 compared to a year earlier and 48% said that “diversion of public funds to companies, individuals or groups due to corruption” was very common or common.
When asked if there is “a tradition of payment of bribes to secure contracts and gain favours,” 43% said that this was very common or common, while only 14% said that it was very rare or rare.
The Corruption Perception report – by Omer Gokcekus - Sertac Sonan - is based on a survey conducted with business representatives who held an executive position at one of the members of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
In the study, corruption is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.
“It is possible to say that corruption is most common in the allocation of credit and land,” said the report.
The involvement of high-level civil servants and politicians in corruption is another common perception.
“Respondents expressed their serious doubts about the independence and effectiveness of financial auditing institutions, and judiciary in deterring corruption. It is concerning to see that social media are found to be more deterring than the courts.”
The aggregate corruption perception score of the northern part of Cyprus has been calculated as 40 out of 100 — the same as Turkey’s score but way below the score of the Republic of Cyprus which was 57 on the Transparency International index.
When asked how common it is for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with business, 63% said “allocation of land and similar incentives” was identified as the most corrupt and “imports and exports” as the least corrupt area with 29%.
Some 62% of the respondents think “public funds are misappropriated by ministers/public officials for private or their party’s political purposes.”
Politicians (67%) and political parties (62%) were seen as the two groups which were most deeply involved in corruption closely followed by high level civil servants (60%). Although 53% of the respondents expressed the view that clear procedures and accountability governing the allocation and use of public funds were in place, when asked “is there an independent body auditing the management of public finances,” the rate went down to 40%.
The courts are not rated any better: When asked how effective the courts were in preventing public officials from abusing their offices for their personal/private interest, only 28% perceived the courts to be very effective.
The trust of respondents in ‘mechanisms designed to deter public officials from abusing their offices for their private interests’ also turned out to be quite low; only 10%-23% believed they were effective.
On the success of institutions, which are supposed to fight or expose corruption, the survey results drew a bleak picture with social media more trusted than any other authority or institution.