Silver Lining: Fewer Bribes in Shattered Greek Economy

Silver Lining: Fewer Bribes in Shattered Greek Economy

Greece’s economic crisis has also cut back the traditional practice of paying bribes to win contracts and speed up transactions, the country’s chief corruption watchdog said on Tuesday.

In an annual survey, the Greek branch of Berlin-based Transparency International said the overall estimated cost of petty corruption for 2011 had fallen from 632 million euros in 2010 to 554 million ($739 million) last year.

The watchdog also released a “corruption price list” based on the responses of 12,000 people questioned for the survey by pollsters Public Issue.

At public hospitals, patients or their relatives can be expected to pay between 100 and 30,000 euros to optimize surger, and between 30 and 20,000 euros to ensure faster treatment.

At private hospitals, bribes of between 150 and 7,000 euros for surgery are cited.

Tax officers can charge between 100 and 20,000 euros to settle an audit, and a driver’s license can be secured with the added payment of between 40 and 500 euros, the watchdog said.

The survey also found that the average amount of private-sector kickbacks had declined from 1,623 euros in 2010 to 1,406 last year.

And a significant percentage of respondents — 25.3 percent in the public sector and 21.6 percent in the private sector — said they had refused to pay the requested bribes, “a hopeful message” according to TI Greece.