Fear of retaliation: 56% of Maltese scared of reporting corruption

One in two Maltese think their government is run by a few private interests - Global Corruption Barometer

Would you blow the whistle on corruption?
Would you blow the whistle on corruption?

56% of Maltese have told the Global Corruption Barometer survey they fear retaliation for reporting corruption.

The figure is well above the EU average of 45%, and is eight highest in a list that is topped by mainly Mediterranean nations Cyprus, Croatia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Portugal.

The GCB, released by Transparency International, reveals that almost two thirds of people in the EU think that government corruption is a problem in their country. The GCB surveyed more than 40,000 people about their views and experiences of corruption.

The Maltese were in the main convinced that government corruption was a problem – this view was shared by 69% or just over two in every three persons, and above the 62% EU average.

Yet 56% also claimed that their government was doing well in tackling corruption, perhaps a reflection of various criminal investigations taking place against former members and acolytes of the Muscat administration and other political resignations.

However, one in two respondents (49%) believe the government is controlled by private interests, just a few points less than the EU average of 53%.

Much less than the EU average of 7%, only 4% of admitted to have paid a bribe to obtain a public service in the last year.

Yet one in three – 33% - admitted to have used personal connections to get a public service in the last 12 months.

“Governments not doing enough,” Transparency International said on the findings of the survey.

“We also asked people how they rate their government’s efforts at tackling corruption. People are divided on this issue, with half being unconvinced about leaders’ efforts. 43% cent of people in the EU think that their governments are doing a good job at tackling corruption. However, 49 per cent think that their governments are doing a poor job.”

Over 60 per cent of people in Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands think their governments are doing well in the fight against corruption. More than half of people in Austria, Ireland, Malta, Slovakia and Sweden agree.

By contrast, 80 per cent of citizens in Cyprus think their government is not doing well in the fight against corruption.

The survey reveals that healthcare, in particular, has been a corruption hotspot as governments struggled to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Although just six per cent of people paid a bribe for health care, 29% EU residents relied on personal connections to get medical care. Furthermore, most people don’t think that their government has handled the pandemic in a transparent manner.

“The EU is often seen as a bastion of integrity, but these findings show that countries across the region remain vulnerable to the insidious effects of corruption,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International. “During a health crisis, using personal connections to access public services can be as damaging as paying bribes. Lives can be lost when connected people get a COVID-19 vaccine or medical treatment before those with more urgent needs. It's crucial that governments across the EU redouble their efforts to ensure a fair and equitable recovery from the ongoing pandemic.”

Around half EU residents think politicians do not take their views into account when making decisions, and that companies cosy up to governments to win profitable contracts and avoid paying taxes. More than half of people in 19 EU Member States hold this view. In Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic and Slovenia, two thirds of people or more think that businesses are controlling their governments.

In contrast, fewer than 3 in every 10 people in Finland (28 per cent), Denmark (25 per cent) and Sweden (20 per cent) share this view.