A bribe of 95% of the value of the order?
I nearly fell off my chair when I heard it. For a moment I thought the person in front of me was playing a joke on me. Trying to take me for a ride. “What does he have to gain by lying to me?” I thought to myself when I saw the earnest look in his eyes. He is just another young entrepreneur trying to eke out a living in this corrupt world. Sadly he did not any one in high places to back him. That is why we were having a chat? He was here to see if I could give him some work because he wanted to get married and needed to save some money for a wedding. Sadly I could not help him much. All I could provide was a listening ear and some tips on how he could drum up more work. However we ended up talking for more than an hour. And it was during this conversation that this fact came out that.
This is a young television documentary and event producer. He had recently got a purchase order from one of our government boards – notorious for corruption I might add – for 5 million rupees. This was for a documentary to be filmed in the Northern Central Province. At first he was overjoyed because it was a wonderful order. It was only when the word filtered in as to how much he had to pay each person who had been involved in obtaining this purchase order that he realized that all was not good. In fact it was very bad. Because all he was left with was 250,000/- after everyone had been paid off. Which was not sufficient for even the travel to check out the locations which is required for this kind of project.
So he declined the project and with that a young man’s dream was shattered. And the light of hope was snuffed out in two people’s hearts.
Nearly ten years ago I had met the Transparency International country representative who said that that level of bribery was around 40% in countries such as Sri Lanka. According to him this was high – when the justifiable global standard of “cost of business” was 10% - though in African countries it could be as high as 70% .
I did the math 4,750,000/- out of 5,000,000/- was no ten percent or forty percent or seventy percent. It was NINETY FIVE percent.
This certainly was not justifiable or acceptable. This is criminal.