Perceived gov’t corruption eases; BOC gets ‘very bad’ rating

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Among 36 government institutions rated for sincerity in fighting corruption, 21 get a thumbs up from business executives, according to the results of a Social Weather Stations poll
VERY BAD. The latest SWS poll among business executives shows that the Bureau of Customs is among 6 government agencies with an unfavorable rating in sincerity in fighting corruption.

MANILA, Philippines – While businessmen’s perception of corruption in government has dipped to a “record low,” Filipino executives slapped the Bureau of Customs (BOC) with a “very bad” rating in its “sincerity” in fighting corruption, an independent poll revealed.

The results of the 2014/15 Social Weather Stations Survey of Enterprises on Corruption released Thursday, August 27, showed that 32% of executives surveyed said they have personal knowledge of a corrupt transaction with the government in their line of business in the past 3 months.

This is a new “record low,” from 33% in 2012.

The survey also showed that 39% said most companies in their sector of business give bribes to win public sector contracts – again a record low from the previous lowest level of 41% in 2012 and 2013.

The survey was conducted from November 14, 2014, to May 12, 2015, among executives of 966 enterprises in the National Capital Region, Metro Angeles, Cavite-Laguna-Batangas, Metro Iloilo, Metro Cebu, Metro Davao, and Cagayan de Oro-Iligan.

Chart by SWS

The SWS terminology for net sincerity ratings are the following: excellent +70 and up; very good +50 to +69; good +30 to +49; moderate +10 to +29; neutral -9 to +9; poor -29 to -10; bad -49 to -30; and very bad, -69 to -50.

‘Very bad’ BOC

Although Filipino businessmen gave the BOC an improved sincerity rating of -55 from -63 in the last survey round, the rating is still categorized as “very bad.”

During the greater part of the survey period ending May 12, the Customs chief was John Sevilla, who resigned on April 23 and was replaced by Bert Lina a day later.

Lina is currently under fire from overseas Filipino workers and their families for his “reminder” on balikbayan boxes. The outcry prompted President Benigno Aquino III to stop physical inspections on balikbayan boxes. (READ: Aquino stops ‘physical’ check of balikbayan boxes)

The other major revenue collection agency fared better, according to the survey. The Bureau of Internal Revenue improved to “neutral” (-4) from “poor” (-10).

The SWS said the  BIR “has steadily improved since 2012 after having been at bad to very bad levels from 2006 to 2009.”

Thumbs up for 21 gov’t agencies

The survey results also showed that of the 36 government institutions rated for sincerity in fighting corruption, 21 got favorable ratings, 9 neutral, and 6 unfavorable.

The Securities and Exchange Commission got the highest net sincerity rating in fighting corruption (+63); followed by the Social Security System (+57); Philippine Stock Exchange (+55); Office of the President (+54); and the Department of Trade and Industry (+51).

The following were rated “good:” Filipino business associations (+49); Supreme Court (+42); Civil Service Commission (+41); Department of Education (+43); Sandiganbayan (+37); Office of the Ombudsman (36); Commission on Audit (+36); and the Department of Justice (+34).

The following were rated “moderate” : Department of Health (+28); Government Service Insurance System (+27); Department of Social Welfare and Development (+24); their own barangays (+19); Department of Finance (+15); Presidential Commission on Good Government (+15); Governance Commission for Goverment Owned- and Controlled Corporations (+12); and their own city government (+12).

The following were rated “neutral”: Department of the Interior and Local Government (+9); trial courts (+6); Department of Environment and Natural Resources (+6); Armed Forces of the Philippines (+4); Department of Budget and Management (-7); Department of Transportation and Communication (-2); Senate (-2); BIR, (-4); and Commission on Elections (-6).

The following were rated “poor”: Department of Agriculture (-10); Philippine National Police (-16); Department of Public Works and Highways (-21); House of Representatives (-25); and Land Transportation Office (-26).

PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE. Thirty-two percent of Filipino managers surveyed by SWS also say they have personal knowledge of corrupt transaction with the government. Image from Shutterstock

Corrupt transactions

The poll  showed that respondents who said they were solicited for a bribe fell from 50% in 2012 to 44% in 2013 and 2014/15. Solicitation of any of the 7 listed bribes from enterprises was 44% in 2014/15, unchanged from 2013.

Only 13% of those solicited for a bribe reported it, the SWS survey showed, similar to 14% in 2013.

Another finding is that 23% of the respondents said most companies in their line of business give bribes to win private sector contracts.

Chart by SWS

The results of the 2014/15 survey showed a record low in the executives’ perception that the government “often/almost always” punishes corrupt government officials – 11% from 20% in 2013 and 27% in 2012.

Fifty-seven percent said that corrupt executives in their own sector of business are often punished.

Chart from SWS

FOI bill vs corruption

Nine in 10  or 90% agreed with the statement, “Corruption will be reduced by the passage of a strong law on the right of the people to information from the government.”

This is 12 points above the 78% in 2009, and 2 points up from 88% in 2013.

The survey also showed that a “new high” of 62% said “the government can be run without corruption,” while 78% disagreed that “to prosper in business in the Philippines today, one has to be corrupt.”

Among the other survey findings are the following:

  • A new high of 51% disagreed that “the present laws to fight corruption in our country are already adequate.”
  • 68% said cheating the government for the benefit of the company is always wrong
  • The best ways for businesses to fight corruption are to “use honest business practices, never pay bribes, and know the laws/rules”
  • Enterprises’ interest in supporting groups fighting corruption is sliding – interest in donating funds slid to 64% in 2015 from 75% in 2005
  • Enterprises’ willingness to help whistleblowers is also sliding – except for providing private jobs (77%)

Ease of doing business

Nearly 8 in 10 executives or 79% said the procedures or system of transactions of city/municipal offices that they have had transactions with are “somewhat/definitely transparent.” This is a new high compared to 74% in 2009, 73% in 2012, and 78% in 2013.

Getting local government permits/licenses stayed at 25% from 2013 to 2014/15, 6 points below the 31% in 2012.

Assessment/payment of income taxes was at 24% in 2014/15 from 23% in 2013, 3 points below the 27% in 2012.

Getting national government permits/licenses rose by 2 points to 21% in 2014/15, from 19% in 2013 and 2012.

Fifty-nine percent said the process of business permits/licenses renewal is easier now than 3 years ago, and the use of the Internet to transact with government has expanded.

Complying with import regulations, including payment of import duties, rose by 3 points to 18% in 2014/15, from 15% in 2013, similar to 17% in 2012.

Supplying government with goods and services rose by 3 points to 15% in 2014/15, from 12% in 2013, similar to 14% in 2012.

Collecting receivables from government was at 12% in 2014/15, from 13% in 2013 and 2012.

Availing of government incentives increased to 8% in 2014/15, from 7% in 2013 and 5% in 2012.

Chart by SWS

Expectations

Sixty-four percent of the respondents are satisfied with the national government’s performance in promoting a good business climate – lower than the record high 70% in 2013. 

Seventy-two percent have good/excellent expectations for business in the next two years – 4 points below the record-high 76% in 2013. This was at 55% in 2009.

Malacañang welcomed the survey results, which were presented by SWS, in cooperation with National Competitiveness Council, on Thursday, August 27.

Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said on Friday, August 28, that the SWS survey “affirms global perception as reflected in surveys such as Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index.”

Lacierda noted that under the Aquino administration, the Philippines has steadily climbed this index, from 134th place in 2010 to 85th in 2014.

“These figures reflect the reality of our government’s transformation in recent years: from one plagued by corruption and dishonesty to one that is committed to public service through Daang Matuwid (Straight Path),” he said. Rappler.com