Public Perceives Corruption as Low, Government Efforts as Effective



Building permits and public procurements are the areas in which the biggest whiff of corruption hits the nostrils of the public, according to a pan-European Eurobarometer survey.

People say the government has done a good job limiting the extent while only four countries had lower perceived levels of corruption.

Minister of Justice Kristen Michal said corruption is considered less of a problem in Estonia than in Europe in general. "According to the study, 72 percent of the Estonian public considers corruption a major problem," he said. The average for the EU is 74 percent. One-fourth of people thought the level had risen, compared to 47 percent EU-wide.

A total of 76 percent said they agreed with the statement that corruption existed in public bodies in Estonia. The figure for local and county government was lower: 70 percent and 69 percent.

Among politicians, respondents felt corruption was most widespread at the state level.

One-half felt bribery and abuse of position were problems. The most common perceived groups for corruption were seen as officials responsible for building permits and public procurements (53 and 52 percent, respectively).

The study also showed Estonians had as much contact with corruption as EU inhabitants on average - 5 percent of Estonian population had experienced corruption in the last 12 months. The figure was 8 percent for the EU.

And just under one-third of Estonians think the government has been effective at combating corruption, with only Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and Sweden placing higher.

Forty-three percent of the respondents agreed that Estonia had enough legal precedent to serve as a corruption deterrent. Only Finland had a higher figure - 44 percent.

Estonians have high standards for transparency of political party financing, with 77 percent considering it currently insufficient compared to 68 percent EU-wide.

Kristopher Rikken