On corruption et al
Corruption exists in our society. This is generally
accepted by everybody including law-makers and law enforcing
authorities. Hardly a day passes without the media exposing some
instance of corruption somewhere.
While the emphasis is on corruption in the public sector few
talk about corruption in the private sector or the ways in which
the latter collude with the former in corrupt deals.
Corruption not only exists but also is widespread. There is
almost no sector that has not been affected by it. It has also
permeated to all strata of society from the elite to the rank
and file worker. In fact, it is so widespread and common that
many take it as granted, as a matter of fact. They would be
surprised only if there were no corruption.
Since wealth and power are often associated with the corrupt,
very often public at large feel impotent. The impunity enjoyed
by powerful politicos and bureaucrats charged with corruption is
another factor that has led to public apathy.
The relative weakness of the legal structures established to
combat the menace of corruption and their resource constraints,
both physical and human, also contribute to the enhancement of
A recent study done in India gives a theoretical explanation
for the prevalence of corruption in that country. Since the
situation is not too different from what is found in Sri Lanka
it would be interesting to ponder for a while on the Indian
Currently the Indian media highlights two scams. One concerns
2G spectrum sales. The other is about the disposal of land by
State officials. Both instances were cases of alleged misuse of
powers by high State officials. In both instances the sale
prices were deliberately lowered allowing the recipient private
businessmen and the State officials to gain huge profits. This
exposes a new method of surplus accumulation by high-ranking
State officials and businessmen in the name of de-regulation or
State-private sector collaboration.
The loss due under pricing in the 2G deal is estimated at
Indian Rs 17.6 billion. The Global Integrity Program has
estimated the loss to India due to illicit capital transfers
abroad by local and foreign business concerns during 1948 - 2008
to be $ 213 billion. Of them 68 percent has occurred after the
liberalization in 1991.
This shows that contrary to opinion of many experts
deregulation and liberalization is accompanied by rampant
corruption. Thus corruption is endemic to the economic model
that is being advocated by international financial institutions
and economic experts. Some of the ways in which capital is sent
out are strictly not illegal due to shortcomings in law.
From the foregoing it is seen that the struggle against
corruption requires a multi-faceted approach. Obviously it is
necessary to tighten the screws by revising and updating the
relevant law and regulations to prevent underhand dealings by
State officials and private sector entrepreneurs.
Also necessary is to make all dealings transparent and open
to public scrutiny. Often politicians are misled by interested
officials into authorizing shady deals. Parliamentary oversight
should be strengthened and quick follow up actions should be
taken in case of misdeeds.
Corruption will remain as long as there is a conducive
atmosphere for it and as long as the wealthy and the powerful
could get away with it using either political or monetary clout.
It is only small scale corruption that would fall into the hands
of law enforcement officials while the kingpins would go
The long arm of the law has not yet reached the culprits in
many noted scams such as the VAT scam. The sooner the guilty are
punished and deterrent action taken against similar instances,
the better it is for the country.
It is also important and necessary to make people aware of
the loss to the nation and the country due to corruption.
Unfortunately there are no civic minded public action groups
fighting against corruption. There is also no practice of public
interest litigation as in India. In all these areas Sri Lanka is