Though not given as high a profile by the NATO forces as the growing insurgency or the opium trade, a new report suggests that corruption and bribery costs Afghans $2.5 billion every year, roughly a quarter of the nation’s economy.
The report, issued today by the UN, suggests that doing virtually anything in the nation has a huge bribery cost associated with it, and Afghans have little legal recourse when officials come knocking, demanding a payout.
At least, no recourse to the US-backed government. Many Afghans noted that Taliban government actually was considerably less corrupt than the current one, and this may point to the reason so many turn to Taliban shadow governments to solve problems.
The UN warns however that the more pressing problem is that the corruption could bring down the Karzai government. It perhaps should not come as a surprise, however, as Karzai’s own reelection came after a fraud mired first round of voting and political pressure led to the cancellation of the second round. The United Nations, so concerned by the corruption, was interestingly enough implicated in a scheme to cover up the extent of Karzai’s fraud.