The political and economic transition in Hungary has been accompanied by widespread corruption. Shortage or bad allocation of resources, an over-bureaucratised legal system and public administration, and networks based on mutual favours have remained structural causes of corruption. Society has undergone significant changes that have undermined generally accepted norms of behaviour (anomie) and strengthened tendencies towards corruption. In some sectors the change from planned economy to a liberal market system has altered the underlying structure of corrupt behaviour. In the shortage economy of socialism, the direction of corruption was from buyer to seller as buyers sought to obtain goods and services in short supply (quality food and imported goods). After the change of regime, the direction of corruption in several sectors (business, public contracting etc.) is from seller (entrepreneur) to buyer (client).
The Unified Criminal Statistics of the Police and Prosecution Service contain data on corruption offences (namely bribery and trading in influence) defined in Chapter XV Title VII and VIII of the Hungarian Criminal Code (HCC). During the last 15 years the number of detected corruption offences has fluctuated between 400 and 1000 per year, with sudden ‘jumps’ in the figures (e.g. 344 in 1991 and 782 in 1992, 955 in 2005 and 480 in 2006.).
These data, however, are misleading as a basis for any far-reaching or unambiguous conclusions on the actual situation of corruption in Hungary, and should be approached with the following factors in mind: a) Some categories of offences (e.g. breach of trust or official duties) committed as a result of corruption are not registered as such in the system. b) Given the very high latency of corruption, figures on bribery and trading in influence (e.g. 480 in 2006) reflect only a fraction of the actual number of such offences. c ) The sudden ‘jumps’ of the figures (e.g. 955 in 2005 and 480 in 2006) are usual associated with small statistical sets, and do not reflect general trends in the incidence of corruption. Just one case involving multiple offences (e.g. a serial bribery of custom and excise guards) can influence the statistical data disproportionately. d) Yearly figures reflect only the number of corruption offences on which data is provided in the given year (the year in which e.g. criminal charges were brought). Altogether, these limitations of the available data suggest that cases of corruption that have come to light represent only a small proportion of corrupt practices actually taking place, the majority of which remain undetected.
In the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) Hungary’s ranking and scores have remained almost unchanged in the last six years.
According to the 2006 Gallup Corruption Index (GCI) Hungary is ranked 78th (with a score of 84 on a scale of 1 to 100). Hungary is perceived as less corrupt than other Central and East European transition countries covered by the surveys, except Estonia, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. According to the Business Environment and Enterprise Performance Survey (BEEPS) conducted by the World Bank, 10 per cent of firms say that unofficial payments are frequent (half of the figure of 2002), and 25 per cent of firms indicated corruption as a problem when doing business (20 per cent in 2002).
Main Areas of Corruption
The most common forms of corrupt practice in Hungary are of an administrative nature or stem from the symbiosis of political and economic interests. Public officials, such as police or customs officers are often reported and caught on fraud charges. In the public health-care system a number of state-employed doctors use public hospital equipment and facilities for private profit. 77 per cent of survey respondents thought it was ‘typical’ for patients to give a gratitude payment or tip to hospital doctors for services to which they are entitled, and in most cases this practice is not viewed as unlawful either by patients or doctors themselves. The public associates policemen (especially in relation to traffic control,
policing tax fraud and drugs) and tax, custom and excise administrators with corrupt behaviour. 39 per cent of respondents consider it normal practice to pay a bribe to avoid a fine for traffic offences, and 28 per cent think it ‘typical’ to pay extra for importing or exporting goods. It is common to pay for speedy registration at the land registry or for faster service from licensing authorities especially in traffic administration.
Parties, politicians, and mayors have also been reported for illegal and corrupt deals.Various
studies have pointed out evidence highly suggestive of illegal campaign and political party
funding. In return of funding, parties when elected may repay ‘donors’ through favourable
government policies and contracts. Irregularities and non-transparent practices in privatisation, concessions, and public procurement tenders often come to light and there are concerns that public funds can end up with political parties when businesses close to the parties win tenders and contracts.The methodology employed in this report means that the fields analysed in the NIS study are not necessarily the ones that are perceived as most corrupt by the general public.
(Source: Corruption Risks in Hungary - National Integrity Study 2007)
International and Hungarian leaders of Transparency International introduced their recommendations to the Government today morning expecting more efficient actions against corruption from the Hungarian presidency.