USAID Presents Citizens’ Perceptions of Anticorruption Efforts in Serbia
December 11, 2018
On December 11, 2018, USAID’s Government Accountability Initiative (GAI), presented the results of the 2018 nationwide survey on the perception of Serbian citizens on the efforts of institutions at all levels of government to combat corruption.
The survey was performed by CeSID d.o.o. in November 2018, via face-to -face interviews, with a sample size of 1,200 interviewees in urban and rural areas throughout Serbia. The sample was designed to represent the target population (18 years old and older), accordingly with the following demographic indicators: (1) region, (2) age, (3) gender, (4) education, (5) residential status (urban/rural), (6) income, (7) employment and occupation. The results of the survey will be used to formulate a GAI baseline, to measure the citizens’ perception on how effectively the government, including GAI counterparts, is combating corruption.
The results of the survey were presented by Mr. Ivo Colovic, CeSID DOO, Program Director. The Survey has shown that 47% of the surveyed believe that Serbia is not heading in the right direction and the polled citizens identified corruption to be in the top three problems (social, economic or political) that Serbia is presently facing.
The presence of corruption was underlined with 57% of those polled claiming that it was “very” or “extremely” widespread in Serbia, while only 8% claimed that corruption was negligibly low.
The findings show that citizens perceive corruption to be widespread and highly influencing all areas of life – Personal and Family life (46%) the business environment (60%), the political situation (80%) and the society as a whole (83%), and 41% polled claimed that corruption has remained unchanged over the past 12 months.
Interestingly, 23% of the polled identified the President as the single institution most committed to combating corruption, even though this institution does not have fighting corruption in its mandate. The most recognizable institution for combating corruption is the Police (78%). The performance of institutions tasked with combating corruption was graded very low, with no institution scoring over 2.37 (Government) out of 5 (where 1 = fail and 5=excellent), while the lowest marks were received by the courts (1.93) and public prosecutors’ offices (1.96).
The most corrupt institutions were identified by the polled to be in the healthcare sector (23%), while the most corruptive practices were identified as using public office to employ friends or relatives (23%) or employment through connections and friendships (22%). When asked on the importance of policies which needed to change to effectively reduce corruption, polled citizens wisely selected the changes penalties for corruption (48%), strengthening whistler-blower protection (14%) and strengthening independent institution oversight (9%).
When asked whether they would report corruption 22% reported that they would not report corruption, as nothing would change if they did, while only 18% reported that they would report a civil servant asking for a bribe. Citizens cited inappropriate oversight of government services (41%) and passiveness and fear of citizens to report corruption (40%) as key factors that adversely affect efforts to combat corruption.
Speaking at the event, USAID Director, Office for Democratic and Economic Growth, Ms. Laura Pavlovic, noted that the findings show that there is not much faith among citizens that the country is heading the right way. She pointed out that more than half (57%) of citizens think that corruption is widespread in Serbia. And at the same time, very few are ready to report corruption when they see it – some out of fear, some because they don’t believe anything can be changed. Ms. Pavlovic stated that USAID’s support to Serbia in anticorruption initiatives is central to USAID’s overall strategy, which focuses on supporting Serbia’s European integration.
A brief review of the state of affairs in the fight against corruption in the Republic of Serbia, was presented by Mr. Nemanja Nenadić, from Transparency Serbia. He underlined that it is of the uttermost importance that independent oversight bodies are strengthened and must do more to address root causes, that laws must be amended in timely and effective manner, and the stagnation of effort to combat corruption must be reversed.
The event generated great interest from representatives of Serbian institutions, the international donor community, academia, civil society organizations and the media. More than 80 participants were present at the event, and the presentation was followed by a vigorous discussion.