India has got the dubious distinction of having the highest bribery rate in the Asia-Pacific, with a survey showing today that more than two-thirds of Indians had to pay 'tea money' or fork out other forms of bribe to get public services.
The survey, conducted by international anti-graft rights group Transparency International, found 69 per cent in India as saying they had to pay a bribe, followed by 65 per cent in Vietnam. China was much lower at 26 per cent while the same for Pakistan was 40 per cent.
Japan had the lowest incidence of bribery -- at 0.2 per cent. South Korea also fared well at a mere 3 per cent.
However, it is China which seems to have seen the highest increase, with 73 per cent in the survey saying the bribery has gone up in their country over the past year while India comes in at seventh place (41 per cent) -- higher than countries like Pakistan, Australia, Japan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
In the survey of more than 20,000 people in 16 countries spanning the Asia-Pacific region, an estimated 900 million said they had to pay a bribe at least once in the past one year.
The police topped the list of public services most often demanding a bribe while 38 per cent of the poorest surveyed said they paid a bribe, which is the highest proportion of any income group.
The survey asked people how often they had to pay a bribe, give a gift, or do a favour, including for the police, judge or court officials, teachers, hospital staff or a government official for getting some documents or services.
"Governments must do more to deliver on their anti-corruption commitments. It's time to stop talking and act. Millions of people are forced to pay bribes for public services and it is the poor who are most vulnerable," said Jose Ugaz, chair of Transparency International.
The results show that lawmakers across the region need to do much more to support whistleblowers and governments must keep promises to combat corruption, including their commitments to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, Transparency International said.
Ugaz further added that "without proper law enforcement corruption thrives. Bribery is not a small crime, it takes food off the table, it prevents education, it impedes proper healthcare and ultimately it can kill".
As part of a regional series for the Global Corruption Barometer, Transparency International spoke to nearly 22,000 people about their recent experiences with corruption in 16 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com.