The Arab Barometer Report: Perceptions of Corruption on the Rise Across MENA just placed Lebanon in quite a disappointing ranking according to studies conducted by Princeton University. The report, published on the World Bank’s blog Arab Voices, also placed it in the lead in multiple of its statistics, which include: Obtaining employment through Wasta, Paying bribe for better educational services, as well as Paying a bribe for better healthcare services, to sadly name a few.
According to Salma Al-Shami, Senior Specialist at the Princeton University’s Arab Barometer research network, Lebanon’s current standing places it as a difficult place to live for multiple reasons.
With “corruption” as a central theme in Lebanon’s 2019 Revolution, as well as among various countries in the region, these numbers are hardly surprising.
Al-Shami stresses: “Arab publics have gathered to decry malfeasance that permeates political and economic structures and ultimately manifests itself in ways that disrupt daily life, be it in the garbage crisis in Lebanon, the cutting of bread and fuel subsidies in Sudan, or the lack of jobs and basic services in Iraq.”
She further elaborates that, as these grievances have peaked recently with the emergence of several uprisings in the region, the Arab Barometer data reveals a “region-wide trend that complaints of corruption have increased over the past decade.”
The Arab Barometer conducts nationally representative surveys across the MENA region. It tackles everything from job access and creation to educational standards and healthcare.
These results are weighted to reflect the views of “ordinary citizens” in each country. The results show that across the region, the share of those saying there is a large or medium extent of corruption in state institutions has risen from 78% in 2010 to 84% in 2019.
Although Lebanon’s educational system is regarded as one of high standards, the study showed that only 42% of the sample were satisfied with the educational system in Lebanon, while 63% have admitted that paying a bribe is necessary to access better quality educational services.
In the areas of Healthcare services, the Lebanese sample expressed a mere 26% satisfaction rate, coupled with a staggering 66% that admit to the need to pay a bribe to obtain better healthcare services in general.
Job creation was one of the most disappointing statistics by far, as the Lebanese Government’s performance in creating jobs was rated satisfactory by a deplorable 4%. Not too surprisingly, 95% expressed that the jobs they wanted were obtained through “wasta”.
“Across the region, people have deemed their basic services, like education and healthcare, as poor and believe bribes are necessary for accessing better quality of each,” the report stated.
It concluded: “Arab publics negatively view their governments’ performance in creating employment opportunities, and say that connections or wasta that corruptly bypass meritocratic or formal processes are quite common, if not frequent.”
With this overall impression circulating even after our region continues to revolt against corruption, one cannot help but wonder whether or not this is a reality we will need to continue to maneuver after Lebanon’s new government is formed, or if next year’s report will hopefully depict a move in the right direction.