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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Target: Zero corruption

ONLY eight percent of 100 business owners surveyed in Cebu said there was “a lot” of corruption in the private sector, which is lower than last year’s 10 percent.

About 29 percent of local business owners reportedly told the Social Weather Stations (SWS) that “most or almost all companies” give bribes to win private sector contracts.

It’s the highest figure in the last four rounds of the Surveys of Enterprises on Corruption, from 22 percent in 2012, to 21 percent in 2013, and 25 percent in 2015.

The SWS surveyed their Metro Cebu respondents from Feb. 12 to March 9, 2016. There were 33 respondents from large enterprises and 67 from small and medium ones.

SWS vice president Linda Luz Guerrero, in her presentation in Cebu last week, showed that 73 percent of the 950 business owners and managers surveyed nationwide from Feb. 2 to May 6 this year said there was corruption in the private sector.

About 43 percent of them said there was “little” corruption, 39 percent said there was “some” corruption, and 11 percent claimed there was “a lot” of corruption in the private sector.

Of the Cebu-based respondents who said there was corruption in the private sector, 38 percent said that corrupt executives were “almost always” punished. Only nine percent said they were “almost never punished.” Thirty-four percent said they were “seldom” punished, while 30 percent said they were “often” punished.

“Our point of reference natin dito (here) is zero kasi dapat walang corruption (because there shouldn’t be any corruption),” Guerrero said.

About 44 percent of the respondents nationwide, reported that there are only “a few” companies that gave bribes, while 20 percent said “most” companies were engaged in the practice, and six percent said “almost all” did it.

In Cebu’s case, 29 percent of the local business owners surveyed said that companies give bribes to win private sector contracts. On average, they said, 10 percent of the project cost was allotted for bribes to win private contracts.

‘It’s always wrong’

In addition, the same survey also found out that while corruption in the private sector is practiced, 81 percent affirmed that “one does not need to be corrupt to succeed in business.”

About 73 percent of the business owners also maintained that “it is always wrong to cheat the government even if it is their companies that benefit from it.”

Close to half or 49 percent of the private sector respondents said they have been solicited for bribes by government representatives for any of the following: assessment or payment of income taxes, getting local or national government permits and licenses, complying with import regulations, supplying government with goods and services, collecting receivables from government, and in the availing of government incentives.

But 90 percent of them said they do not report bribe solicitations by government officials, mainly because “nothing would be done anyway.”

In order to reduce corruption, the private sector has identified three top ways to do it: never pay bribes, use honest business procedures at all times, and know the laws and rules of government transactions.

At least 84 percent of respondents also admitted that they have not “contributed” to any private anti-corruption program in the last two years.

The 2016 SWS Corruption Survey is already in its 13th leg.

This year’s study was supported by the Australian Embassy-The Asia Foundation Partnership in the Philippines, and USAID through the Integrity for Investments Initiative, and in partnership with the National Competitiveness Council.
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