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Bribes in Ukraine

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Bribery is the improper act of giving out something such as cash, favors or a valuable consideration with a purpose of influencing, inducing and persuading an individual in a position of interest and trust. The person who gives out a bribe expects in return, a favor or a service that she or he is not eligible to receive. The person may also be qualified or rightfully deserves the service, but the system in place that offers the services, is derailed or paralyzed. Bribery is a form of corruption that has become extensive and a dominant necessary evil in Ukraine. It has almost become a normal part of life for the majority of the citizens. This paper aims to focus on different types of bribes offered in Ukraine, the impacts of bribery to Ukraine and to the rest of the world, and the actions taken by the Ukrainian government to combat bribery.

Ukraine was placed at position 144th out of the 176 countries scrutinized on the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index in 2012. This was a drop from 2007 where it was placed at position 118th. Ukraine has been heavily criticized across the world because of the high level of corruption practiced. Ernst & young placed Ukraine among the top three most corrupt countries in the world in 2012, alongside Columbia and Brazil (Kochanova, 2012). Ukrainians give bribes to be served with public services on time. They practice such corruption because it has become a common affair, expected and customary. The highest cases of corruption are reported on vehicle inspections, public procurement, health care, police, higher education and the courts. This high level of corruption has been attributed by a weak judicial system, weak civil society and an over-domineering government that lacks integrity coalesced with political and business ties. Corruption is a regular headline covered on the Ukrainian media (Neutze, 2007).  

Corruption in higher education in Ukraine involves buying a campus entry; bribes paid for favored marking of exams and, master’s and doctoral theses. Teachers and professors are not well paid hence they are inclined to ask for bribes from students. Some students find it offensive, but most students give bribes freely to the teachers and professors. In the social security system, corruption is also a common activity. This leads to inadequately competent staff in the workforce, thus hampering the productivity and growth of the economy. In one of his speeches, President Viktor Yanukovych stated that only a small amount of the social seurity funds goes to the rightful beneficiaries. The rest of the lamp some cash is pocketed by illegal parties such as members of the National Assembly who fraudulently claim to be veterans of warfare and Chornobyl (Kochanova, 2012).

When it comes to business, corruption is encountered in taxation, licensing and customs. Bribery at customs encourages business of illegal goods such as counterfeit good and narcotics across borders. Top managers receive bribes while business people give bribes freely to hide details of their financial records. Non-Ukrainian companies are reported to lose contracts, by failing to hand out bribes or out-bribe their fellow competitive bidders. This adversely affects growth of enterprises and discourages investors (both local and foreign) in Ukraine. Some of the corrupt contractors who unfairly win tenders end up doing poor projects such as roads that are short-lived. Employees of the National Bank of Ukraine are also reported asking for a percentage bribe from Ukrainians when granting loans from foreign banks. This discourages citizens from acquiring loans for business and national development (Oxford Business Group, 2007).         

Medical care is free in state-owned hospitals, but Ukrainians continue to give bribes to receive the basic health services they deserve for free. Officials in the Ukrainian Ministry of Health embezzle funds meant for drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS. They quote high buying prices for such drugs and later receive kickbacks. This adversely affects the health status of many citizens as most of them cannot afford private hospitals. Corruption has also found its way into the Ukrainian judicial system. Judges succumb to pressure from influential political and business elite and their rulings or verdicts are thus influenced, doctored and biased. The courts are supposed to be independent, but they are heavily controlled by the political elite of Ukraine. Judges receive bribes making the judicial system corrupt and hence the Ukrainians have lost faith on the judiciary. The political and business elite continue to carry out illegal activities while being protected by the Ukrainian courts at the expense of the common citizens who remain oppressed. Traffic police also receive bribes from over-speeding motorists and other traffic offenders who go free without punishment in Ukraine. Ukrainian police receive bribes to release petty offenders from cells instead of taking them to courts. This promotes crime and boosts insecurity in Ukraine. There have been casess of bribery of voters and election officials during elections in Ukraine and this result to unworthy leaders who are not up to the task (USAID, 2006).

Corruption has made Ukraine a dependent country in Europe. Ukraine has been given millions by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for projects that involved perking up governance, but this does not seem to have made much brunt on public acuity. Additionally, the World Bank loaned $7 billion to Ukraine, and when it investigated the performance of the Ukrainian government in 2010, the results were poor administration and corruption as the major restraints to expansion and foreign direct investments. This creates an unhealthy business and diplomatic relation with other nations and organizations (USAID, 2006).

However, the Ukrainian government has made efforts to combat and curb corruption. Project against corruption in Ukraine (UPAC) was founded in 2006 and lasted till 2010. It was funded by the European Union with a purpose of strengthening Ukrainian institutions to combat corruption through strategic, legal and preventive frameworks. In 2006, Ukraine became the 40th member of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO). GRECO is charged with the responsibility of evaluating issues such as corruption in public service and the authorities in charge of investigations and prosecutions of corruption charges. By joining GRECO, Ukraine was committed to abiding to all the regulations and procedure embodied in GRECO (Oxford Business Group, 2007). In 2011, the government dissolved the existence of the government agency for anti-corruption policy and replaced it with a new National Anti-Corruption Committee in May 2012. This independent committee is expected to investigate, and prosecute even the corrupt political and business ‘untouchables’ with no fear or favor (Kochanova, 2012).

In conclusion, corruption in Ukraine is a ‘cancerous’ predicament subsisting across the board and at all heights of public management. Both petty and large-scale corruptions are thriving with political parties, police, legislature, public officials and the judicial system leading in the vice. The Ukrainian community can be conceptualized as a community with a high lenience for corrupt activities. All efforts against corruption should be strengthened to reduce and discourage it to ground level for the good of the Ukrainian society. Bribery grows directly proportional with rate of inflation (Kochanova, 2012).

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