19 November 2012

Rwanda's Regulatory Authorities Least Bribed, Survey Reveals

Rwanda is ranked the second country in East African Community (EAC) with the lowest bribes demanded by regulatory authorities from transporters and drivers along the transport corridors, according to a survey by Transparency International (TI) Kenya and Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA).

The survey, released yesterday in Kenya's capital Nairobi, ranked Burundi as the country with the lowest amount of bribes among all five partner states of the bloc.

According to the report titled "Bribery as a non-tariff barrier to trade; a case study of East African trade corridors," Tanzania's regulatory authorities ranked worst at USD 12, 640; followed by Kenya at USD6, 715, Uganda was the third at USD3, 672 while Rwanda ranked the fourth at USD 679 and Burundi had the lowest at USD293.

Done between August and November 2011, the survey was conducted in collaboration with Transparency International chapters in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and the Transparency forum in Tanzania as part of efforts to facilitate the elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers experienced along the EAC transport corridors.

According to the findings, bribery practices are more severe at weighbridge stations and police roadblocks. For instance, 46 per cent of the transporters cited the likelihood of unnecessary delays as the major reason for having to pay bribes, followed by numerous documentation (20 per cent), slow pace of services (14 per cent), poor understanding of clearing procedures (9 per cent), and high tax levels (8 percent).

"The regional picture is much similar to the country responses, except in the case of Rwanda where all (100%) of the transporters cited unnecessary delays as the major reason for prompting bribery payments," the report states.

The survey was conducted in the five East African States among 1,731 respondents and focused on establishing personal, first-hand experiences of bribery practices in 2011. It targeted key players involved in transport activities along the Northern and Central corridors in EAC. The respondents included 19 transporters, 1,185 drivers, and 190 clearing and forwarding agents; and regulatory bodies covering 98 customs and 68 police authorities.

Richard Sindiga, the director of Economic Affairs in the Kenyan EAC Ministry, called upon the governments in partner states to ease the flow of people and goods across borders by reducing or eliminating tariffs and working to minimize non-tariff barriers across the EAC.

"This will create larger markets, enable economies of scale, and promote local, regional, and global trade, which, in turn, will foster a dynamic environment for economic growth across the entire region..." he said during the launch. "However, the problem of non-tariff barriers in the EAC is widespread and requires joint effort to eliminate them."

Samuel Kimeu, the executive director of Transparency International Kenya, condemned the remaining non-tariff barriers to doing business in the region.

"Corruption serves as an unnecessary cost of doing business and as an additional burden to the consumer. Left unchecked, the vice will make this region uncompetitive," he pointed out, noting that the full benefits of integration will not be achieved unless decisive efforts are put in place to confront corruption in the trade and transport sectors.

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