How much corruption is there in Georgia?
In October 2013, Transparency International Georgia contracted the Caucasus Research Resources Center to conduct a public opinion survey throughout Georgia. Along with other questions, the 1,918 respondents of the survey were also asked whether they had been asked to pay a bribe for public services since the 2012 parliamentary elections. Only 3 percent of the respondents said that they had. The result is similar to the results of the Global Corruption Barometer survey published last summer, in which only 4 percent of the respondents gave the same answer to the same question.
These surveys (that are usually referred to as “corruption experience surveys”) clearly indicate that the problem of petty corruption and bribery has largely been solved in Georgia. However, it is difficult to make more far-reaching conclusions about the level of corruption in the country on the basis of these surveys alone because bribes paid for public services are not the only type of corruption. There are more complex forms of corruption that the majority of citizens do not encounter in their daily lives. These forms of corruption are, nevertheless, very harmful to the country as a whole.
For this reason, organizations studying corruption conduct the so-called corruption perception surveys along with the corruption experience surveys. These studies are usually based on the opinions of the people who have direct contact with the spheres particularly prone to corruption (e.g. public procurement, privatization, political party financing, tax collection, etc.) and have professional knowledge in these areas. Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index is one such study. The latest results of this study were published in December 2013 and Georgia the score of 49 on a 100-point scale (where 0 indicates the highest perceived level of corruption and 100 indicates the lowest). This result shows that, despite the progress made over the last decade, experts in the relevant fields that complex forms of corruption remain a serious problem in Georgia.
There is also a third approach to studying corruption where (unlike the corruption experience and corruption perception studies) the research is focused on assessing the strength of the country’s integrity system. The integrity system includes all (state and non-state) institutions that play a role in preventing corruption. These institutions make up a country’s “immune system” which protects it from corruption. Consequently, an assessment of the condition of these institutions makes it possible to determine how well a country is protected from corruption. Transparency International Georgia published the Georgia National Integrity System Assessment in 2011 and will release an updated version of this study in the autumn of 2014. According to the 2011 study, the lack of transparency and accountability in the executive branch resulting from the weakness of oversight institutions (first and foremost, Parliament and the judiciary) was the primary source of corruption risks in Georgia and created opportunities for abuse of power.
Studies focusing on the areas where the risk of corruption tends to be higher are also important in terms of assessing the situation in the country in terms of corruption. Transparency International Georgia’s recent reports on public procurement and the links between politics and business suggest that significant opportunities for corruption remain in certain parts of Georgia’s public sector, pointing to the need for further anticorruption reforms.
Finally, it should be noted that none of the three approaches described above provides the full picture of the situation in the country in terms of corruption. It is therefore advisable to combine the results of all three types of studies when we are trying to measure the level of corruption in the country.