Examination of Witness (Questions 500
TUESDAY 16 JANUARY 2001
500. Could you tell us actually what are the
real causes of corruption in these societies? Because it happens
at two levels, actually, one is the politicians are involved,
in a party political system, it does not matter whether a politician
is at a higher level or at a lower level, and the delivery of
service, actually, is done by the bureaucrats and at that level
as well. What sort of relationship and co-ordination is between
these two sections of the community who collaborate to indulge
(Dr Cockcroft) I think that the two do feed off one
another. Certainly, I think that, if you have pervasive petty
corruption, that sets the climate for grand corruption, I think
there is no question that that happens. If you ask ordinary people
which kind of corruption they are aware of, it is overwhelmingly
petty corruption. Of course, they might be interested to know
that so-and-so has run off with so many thousands or so many millions
and put it in a Swiss bank account, but really that does not affect
them, what affects them is this pervasive petty corruption. But,
having said that, when that is the norm, it is not that big a
step from that to the grand corruption, it is doing the same thing
but because you are in a position to do it at a bigger level you
do it at a bigger level. So I think that petty corruption definitely
provides the climate for grand corruption to happen.
501. Can it happen the other way round, when
you have governments who are openly corrupt, if their leaders
are openly corrupt, or even not openly but rumoured to be corrupt,
does this not justify petty corruption?
(Dr Cockcroft) I am sure that happens as well. If
you see famous cases that everybody knows are corrupt and nobody
is taking that person to task about it then "Here am I, just
with my little amount, why shouldn't I do what I can do, given
that he can get away with that."
502. Has there been any calculation as to the
waste of resources, due to such petty corruption, in service delivery?
(Dr Cockcroft) There have been some, and you come
up with quite extraordinary figures; some people say that up to
70 per cent of resources can be wasted through petty corruption.
I think, obviously, there are costs both ways, there are costs
to the intended service users, who have to pay directly and who
also have a cost because they do not get the service, so there
is the cost to them of getting the service, and there is the cost
to them of not getting the service. And then, of course, there
are costs to the service, so that, whatever drugs you put in,
if huge proportions of them are leaking out of the service, then
you are paying for those drugs but they are not actually becoming
part of your service. And if you pay workers to be at their post
and those workers are not at their post then that is also you
are paying for something that you are not getting.
503. Yes; a very difficult calculation, I should
(Dr Cockcroft) It is a difficult calculation, you
can do it on an individual basis, on a household basis, you can
look at how much they are paying in relation to annual incomes,
and so on, and, of course, it depends whether they have used the
service or not, so it is a slightly difficult calculation. But
the amounts sometimes, although they seem small to us, are actually
large for households that have a very low income.
Chairman: Yes; indeed. Barbara Follett
is going to lead us in further questions on petty corruption in
504. I really want to have a look at how the
public perceive corruption. In one of your reports, you said,
"The public may attribute poor service delivery to corruption,
even if this is not always the case. Lack of medicines in Bangladesh
may be due to inadequate and poorly targeted supplies as well
as leakage from the system, but citizens attribute it to corruption."
How accurate do you think public perceptions of corruption are,
and has it become really a cover for inefficiency?
(Dr Cockcroft) I think, people certainly know when
they are paying when they should not be paying, and I think that
people's perceptions of a service are to do with, first, their
own experience of that service and then, other people, from where
they come from, their experience of the service; so they do tend
to be based on local information. But, of course, once a service
has got a reputation then you may tend to think, well, that is
always the case, even when it is not always the case. It is very
difficult to know, it is very difficult to know how much is perception
and how much is experience; but I would say a lot of it is experience,
because when you ask them about individual contacts with the service
then, yes, they are reporting high levels of problems.
505. What is the public's attitude, are they
irritated, angry, or just accepting, resigned?
(Dr Cockcroft) They are very angry about it, when
you get down to it; on the other hand, they feel hopeless about
it. They do have some ideas about what is wrong and what should
be changed, but they say, "Well, what can I do, I'm a poor
person, why would anybody listen to what my view is? I don't have
any say about this."
506. What do they think might be the solutions?
(Dr Cockcroft) They think that there should be more
control and monitoring of services, tends to be one of the things
that they come out with. Often they simply say, "We want
to have more drugs available," and they say, "You should
prevent people from selling the drugs." They do not necessarily
have a clear idea about how that might happen, but they do say
that you should monitor the service providers. Sometimes people
come up with fairly detailed suggestions, that at local level
you might have, for example, one case in Uganda, where we were
talking about agricultural extension workers, we found that very
few households had ever been visited by these workers, although
they were reporting that they were visiting more households. And
the suggestion there, from some communities, was, "Well,
what we need to have is the local community," like the locally-elected
person, actually, "should have a way of actually visiting
some of those farmers to check whether they have been visited
by the extension worker or not." So that they do come up
with some solutions that could work locally, which is that, through
our elected representatives, we would make a monitoring system
to see if these services are actually doing what they say they
507. Do they ever say why they think officials
resort to corruption and bribery?
(Dr Cockcroft) Yes. We have asked about this in a
number of places where we have looked at this question, and they
come up with a number of things. Some of them say it is just because
people are greedy and bad, and they say, "Well, yes, you
know, the service workers will tell you it's because they're poorly
paid, but look at how much their pay is compared with how much
I make as a farmer; they're already making a lot more than I am,
so it's not right that it's due to their poor pay." Having
said that, there is, I think, a recognition on the part of the
public that service workers are poorly paid, and not only poorly
paid but irregularly paid, it is not necessarily that your pay
is poor but that you do not get paid for six months; so they do
understand that people have to feed their families. And those
are the sorts of things that they tend to come up with, either
sort of individual bad behaviour, or greed, if you like, and the
business that people are poorly paid; and they also come up with
the fact that nobody takes any notice of whether the services
do what they say they do, or not, they are not monitored or supervised.
508. Do they ever talk about heavier sanctions
against those who are found to be corrupt?
(Dr Cockcroft) Yes, they do, they talk about the fact
that people who are corrupt ought to be punished, they ought to
be put in gaol, they ought actually to be punished.
509. Is there ever any indication from people
that there should be leading by example from the top, as there
has been in some of the HIV/AIDS work in Africa, like presidents,
or kings, or monarchs coming out against bribery and corruption?
(Dr Cockcroft) Yes. They will say things like, almost
the other side of that, what they will say is that, "Because
there is so much corruption, we've lost faith in the Government,
we think the Government isn't interested in us and so the Government
does need to take strong action." So they will say that sort
of thing, so I suppose that is getting at what you are sort of
saying, if you like.
510. You have not known of any examples of a
head of state coming out and saying, "This is something that
must be rooted out"?
(Dr Cockcroft) Oh, yes. President Mkapa said that,
and President Museveni says that, and that has made a difference
to people's perceptions, I think, although the honeymoon period
does not last that long. They say, "Well, it's good that
they want to do something about it, but now let's see if anything
511. Just to move on to other forms of corruption
besides, say, bribery, "absenteeism, diversion of resources,
nepotism, cronyism, and the like," again, quoting from your
report, can you give examples from your surveys of these other
forms of corruption and how they affect public services and the
(Dr Cockcroft) Yes. For example, in education and
health services, people may be employed to do the job, but they
do not do it, they are employed to give a service, for the Government
service, but they spend their time doing private work, if you
like, so that, very frequently, if you go to a health facility
you do not find a health worker there, and when you send your
children to school there are not teachers to teach the classes.
So those sorts of things, yes, they are quite commonplace, that
absenteeism is there.
512. How do people perceive those forms of corruption,
do they see them as bad as, say, extortion, or just something
(Dr Cockcroft) They do not necessarily describe them
as corruption, but they describe them as a problem, they see it
as a problem, that the teachers should be there and they are not
there; so it is seen as a problem.
513. Do you have any examples of good practice,
where procurement, employment and auditing practices are being
improved, in developing countries?
(Dr Cockcroft) Examples of success, or examples of
514. Yes, success, not failure. I am looking
for models which could be transferred, perhaps?
(Dr Cockcroft) It is not exactly audit, in practice,
that is why I am hesitating, and I do not know if it has worked
yet, but in Uganda, when we did the National Integrity Survey,
it was deliberately done in every district so that there would
be results that each district could use. And, since doing that,
the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity and the Inspector General
of Government are going round, working with each district, and
they are coming up with local integrity plans, and I think that
is a useful thing to come from that; whether it will have actually
made a difference to the level of corruption, I think it is a
moot question. There is a proposal to re-evaluate the situation,
possibly this year or next year, to see whether, in fact, first,
which districts have actually implemented the plans, and then
to see, in those that have, what difference did it make. Those
plans were sort of formulated quite democratically, I suppose
you could say, in the sense that you would have a wide variety
of people there, you would have the political leaders, you would
have the administrators, and you would have representatives of
the different groups of society, sitting around, talking about
the problem, looking at their evidence, and then coming up with
a plan on the basis of that.
515. If you could think of one thing, just one,
that would make a difference to corruption, would it be what I
am going to say, which is, it always seems to me that good management
is what prevents corruption, that is regular payment, overseeing
and auditing; what would you say it would be?
(Dr Cockcroft) I think, yes, good management, but
crucially involving the people who are supposed to be getting
the service. I think one of the problems with service reform is
that it has tended to be internal, and the reform of the service
has tended to look at the way the service works internally, and
that is good, in the sense that there are lots of things that
need to be put right internally. But you should not lose track
of the fact that what the service is there for is to provide a
service to the public, so you need to have that sort of downstream
measurement about, well, how good is the service to the public
that is being provided. So I think I agree with you that good
management is crucially important, good management and monitoring,
so that people know that somebody cares whether they do a corrupt
act or not, it does matter; they will not necessarily get punished,
in that way, but somebody might pull them up about it.
516. Somebody cares if they get paid regularly,
too, I think is very important?
(Dr Cockcroft) Yes; those sorts of things, but I do
feel that it is not enough unless you have the viewpoint and the
input of the people who are supposed to be getting the service.
I think that is very important.
Barbara Follett: Thank you very much.
Chairman: Now we want to deal with more
of tackling corruption, and Andrew Rowe is going to lead us in
517. I wondered whether actually you had any
examples of sort of the community successfully mobilising itself
to tackle corruption; you talked about vigilantes, that is not
quite the same thing?
(Dr Cockcroft) No, I was not really suggesting that
as success. It is a pity Professor Andersson still has not arrived,
I do not think. Heathrow is even worse than usual. I was hoping
that he would be here to describe some of the experiences in South
Africa, but I will try to do that, even though I was not involved
directly. CIET looked at sexual violence in Johannesburg, which
is a major problem there, and one of the problems is, in terms
of reporting to the police, that the dockets, and so on, do not
get passed forward to be dealt with by the courts, so very few
cases come to court; and, certainly, this is at least partly due
to corrupt practices. The first survey was done about three years
ago and then a repeat survey was done last year, and, working
with the police, the police changed their practices and introduced
some new practices as a result of the findings. And, I think it
is very important to say, they were crucially involved in this,
it was not somebody outside, poking the finger, you know, "The
police are doing a bad job," the police themselves were involved
in the process and getting the data. They have changed their practices,
and, in discussion between the service providers, in this case
the police, and the local populations, they were able to come
up with some new practices, and it has been possible to show that,
yes, that did make a difference.
518. And what examples are there of public sector
action, stimulated by audits of social attitude? I think what
we are interested in, in a sense, is the kind of work you have
done, and other people have done, which is to take an audit of
social attitudes; now does that have an effect on public policy?
It sounds a little bit as if there had been something of an audit
of people's attitude to sexual violence. Is there a link between
audits of social attitudes and changes in practice?
(Dr Cockcroft) I think there can be, but I do not
think it is automatic. I think what can tend to happen is, you
undertake your survey, your audit, and you present the results
at a national seminar, and everybody sits round and nods sagely
and says, "Yes, this is a very bad thing, we need to do something
about it." It may hit the newspapers, and all that is good,
but actually I think that the real hard work probably has to happen
at a more local level, and I think that that is why I feel quite
optimistic about the situation in Uganda, because things are happening
at a local level. I feel much less optimistic about a very centralised
country, such as Nepal, for example, where we did some similar
things, although nobody really wanted us to look at corruption
there, but we did do some similar things, but I do not think there
is any chance that anything will happen there, as a result of
the audits, because they get filed and that is the end of the
story. So I do not think you can really say that just getting
the public opinion in itself makes anything change, you have to
have a willingness on the part of the service providers and the
Government actually to act on the findings.
519. Do you think that the donors take petty
corruption seriously enough? We have just received some evidence,
for example, where one of the banks, for instance, appears to
be perfectly happy to wink at petty corruption, and we heard about
these big companies, but what about the donor community, does
the World Bank, and so on, take this seriously enough? Is enough
done to prevent petty corruption undermining the intended benefit
to the poor, and how would you plan the services provided by donors
to minimise corruption?
(Dr Cockcroft) I think that the donors are increasingly
aware of this, as an issue, and are trying to do something about
it. I do not know that they necessarily always succeed. I can
give you an example of the sort of thing I mean. In Uganda, the
World Bank has been funding a large, agricultural extension project
in some districts, and, just by chance, actually, because it was
not the intention of our survey, some of the districts in our
survey had that extension project and some did not, and the intention
of that project was to increase the number of farmers who were
getting visits from extension workers. There was an internal audit
of that service, undertaken by the service, if you like, and they
said, "Oh, it's very good, 75 per cent of farmers are visited;"
but when, as I say, more or less fortuitously, we undertook the
survey that showed that only 10 per cent of farmers were visited,
there were not any more visited in those districts that had the
project compared with those that did not, and, of course, many
millions had gone into this project, so then, obviously, the World
Bank needed to ask itself, "Well, what happened to those
millions that went into that project, if, in fact, they are not
actually changing the situation on the ground?". Now, of
course, there were all sorts of challenges, "Well, the farmers
didn't know what you meant by the question," and those sorts
of things were suggested, but, having said that, that could only
really be the explanation of the findings if that was different
in the districts with the project and without, and, since at the
time nobody knew which district was which, there was no way that
that could be the case. So I think it was not just the absolute
level but the fact that the districts with the project were not
better than those without the project. So I think the donors probably
felt quite comfortable, on the basis of the internal evaluation
of the projects, but, of course, you could argue, well, perhaps
that was always going to be positive, so maybe you need to be,
I do not know, a little more sceptical, or maybe they need to
be a bit tougher about how well they actually monitor it on the
ground. It is difficult, it is very difficult, because it is the
easiest thing in the world to put in false receipts.