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One fifth of Iraqis pay bribes

BAGHDAD, Aug 18 – One in five Iraqis admits to paying bribes at government offices, according to a survey published by the country’s anti-corruption watchdog on Monday.

Of those interviewed, 21.4 percent said they had paid bribes at government offices including those dealing with passports, taxes, rations, health and education, said the survey by the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity (CPI).

The oil-rich northern province of Kirkuk registered the highest rate, with 55.88 percent of respondents saying they had paid bribes to government officials, the study found.

It said 41.23 percent of respondents said they paid bribes in Diyala, a restive province north of Baghdad, while the figure tumbled to three percent in the central province of Wasit.

The survey interviewed 4,806 people in 12 of Iraq’s 18 provinces but did not cover the capital Baghdad, the provinces of Anbar and Dhi Qar nor the three provinces that make up the autonomous northern Kurdistan region.

In the largest number of cases, those who had paid bribes had offered them first, while others had bribes demanded of them to speed up services, remove obstacles or complete an illegal request.

Watchdog Transparency International ranks Iraq as the second most corrupt country in the world, on an equal pegging with Myanmar after Somalia.

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