Corruption in North Cyprus is rife, according to 89% of Turkish Cypriot business people.
In the first ever report of its kind, 56% believed that bribery and corruption have become worse in 2017 compared to 2016 and 48% said that “diversion of public funds to companies, individuals or groups due to corruption” was either very common or not unusual.
Asked if there is “a tradition of payment of bribes to secure contracts and gain favours”, 43% of respondents said that this was very common or common. Only 14% said that it was very rare or rare.
The Corruption Perception report prepared by Omer Gokcekus and Sertac Sonan, is based on a survey conducted with business community representatives who held an executive position at one of the members of the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce.
In the study, corruption is defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.
The report said that “It is possible to say that corruption is most common in the allocation of credit and land”. Involvement in corruption of civil servants and politicians at the highest level is another common perception.
“Respondents expressed their serious doubts about the independence and effectiveness of financial auditing institutions, and judiciary in deterring corruption. It is concerning to see that social media are found to be a stronger deterrent than the courts”.
The combined perception score in North Cyprus has been calculated as 40 out of 100 which is the same score as Turkey. However, this number falls way below the score from South Cyprus which was 57 on the Transparency International index.
Asked how common it is for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with business, 63% said “allocation of land and similar incentives” was identified as the most corrupt and “imports and exports” as the least corrupt area with 29%.
Around 62% of the respondents think “public funds are misappropriated by ministers/public officials for private or their party’s political purposes”.
Politicians (67%) and political parties (62%) were perceived as the two groups most deeply involved in corruption, closely followed by high level civil servants (60%).
Although 53% of the respondents expressed the view that clear procedures and accountability governing the allocation and use of public funds were in place, when asked “is there an independent body auditing the management of public finances”, the rate fell to 40%.
Courts in the TRNC fared no better: When asked how effective the courts were in preventing public officials from abusing their offices for their personal/private interest, only 28% perceived the courts to be very effective.
The trust of respondents in ‘mechanisms designed to deter public officials from abusing their offices for their private interests’ also turned out to be quite low; only 10%-23% believed they were effective.
The survey results produced a stark picture regarding the ability of institutions to combat or expose corruption. Meanwhile, it emerged that social media, was more trusted than any authority or institution.