USAID and CESID Present Citizens’ Perceptions of Anticorruption Efforts in Serbia for 2019

USAID and CESID Present Citizens’ Perceptions of Anticorruption Efforts in Serbia for 2019

December 9, 2019

On December 9, 2019, marking International Anti-Corruption Day, the United States Agency for International Development Government Accountability Initiative presented the results of the 2019 nationwide Survey of Citizens’ Perceptions of Efforts to Combat Corruption. This year’s survey provides insight into the public’s opinions on government institutions’ performance in combating corruption, additional measures government needs to take to address it, and comparative analysis to views expressed in 2018. In the 2019 survey citizens also reports on their personal experiences in dealing with corruption.

“According to the citizens of Serbia, corruption remains one of the three biggest problems they are facing, alongside low wages and unemployment. The majority of respondents (84%) believe that corruption greatly impacts Serbian society as a whole, and citizens still believe the healthcare sector to be the most corrupt. Still people are not fully aware of the consequences corruption has on their quality of life, as only 47% of respondents believe that corruption affects their personal lives. However 30% more respondents now recognize that appropriate oversight of government services is a key fact to positively affect efforts to combat corruption” said Ms. Shanley Pinchotti, USAID Director of the Office for Democratic and Economic Growth.

Although corruption is deemed widespread both on the national level as well as in the respondents’ immediate surroundings, 86% responded that they would not report corruption and half (53%) said that if they were asked for a bribe, they would not pay it or would seek someone to help them without paying, nor would they report it (54%).

“Institutions tasked with combating corruption still remain unrecognizable and citizens are unsatisfied with their performance. The vast majority of the public (86% in 2019 and 85% in 2018) believe that more stringent sanctions for giving and receiving bribes, strengthened whistleblower protection (85%) and enhanced transparency in the work of public bodies/institutions corruption (79% in 2019 and 71% in 2018) are the most important measures to combat”, said Mr. Ivo Čolović, CeSID Program Director.  

One of the key findings of the Survey shows the dissatisfaction of citizens with local governments. Nearly half of the respondents think that local governments are not transparent and open, that they do not include citizens in decision making and do not use the budget rationally and responsibly. Half of them also believe that local governments do not provide services that are needed by the citizens and that they are not devoted to combating corruption. 

Mr. Nemanja Nenadić, Transparency Serbia Program Director, noted as a positive thing that majority of citizens recognize corruption as one of the biggest problems. At the same time, citizens are not satisfied with the commitment of government’s institutions to combat corruption. The number of dissatisfied is much higher than those who consider the performance to be good, and the problem is that such assessments are about a key anti-corruption institution – the public prosecutor’s office. Although most people still think that the Government should lead the fight against corruption (29%), compared to last year, the number of those who think that the leader should be one of the repressive state bodies (police, judiciary) has significantly increased – from 28% in 2018, to 37% in 2019. This finding indicates that citizens are eager to see that corruption is punished, not only in terms of the amount of penalties, but also in the larger number of cases investigated.

This public opinion survey was administered by CeSID through USAID Government Accountability Initiative in November 2019. It was conducted face-to-face with respondents and covered the territory of Serbia. This is the second such nationwide survey conducted by USAID.

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