In 2012, Afghans paid an astonishing US $3.9 billion—double the country’s domestic revenue—in bribes, according to a United Nations Office on Drugs Crimes report “Corruption in Afghanistan: Recent patterns and trends”.
The survey of 7,000 Afghans indicated that approximately half the respondents had bribed a public official in 2012. As high as it is, this percentage represents a lower figure than in past years. Nevertheless, the total financial outlay in bribes for 2012 was higher than ever, as officials demanded more money to compensate for low salaries.
“First and foremost, most Afghans unfortunately do regard this bribery as a fact of life”, Jean-Luc Lemahieu, regional representative for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime told Al Jazeera.
In poll after poll, Afghans consistently rank corruption second after security as a major problem facing the country. Loss of revenue and skepticism toward the government are just two problems exacerbated by this rampant practice. Al Jazeera reports that “Lemahieu said the figures show a trend towards ‘a very inequitable society with those having the means to pay for a bribe getting immediate access to the government services, while those without the means lose their access or do not receive the services in time.’”