Corruption Perception Survey: Five Key Messages from Business

American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine has recently presented the results of its second Corruption Perception Survey. The Survey was conducted among Chamber member companies operating in all major business areas and covered the period from March 2014 to October 2015. The results are based on anonymous answers of around 100 respondents, 62% of them representing large business.

In this post I would like to provide you with five most interesting messages the business broadcasted. I will not focus on the obvious data – the level of corruption is expectedly high, so is the level of distrust in Ukrainian law enforcement authorities. I would rather go with the counterintuitive findings I did not expect discovering.

Private sector does not see any noticeable progress in tackling corruption

As many as 3/4 of respondents do not believe that corrupt practices decreased since March 2014. This number is almost the same as for 2014, but one should take into account that pre-March 2014 period is the era of our ousted ex-president. Thus, despite the reported progresses, business believes that the situation with corruption remains practically as bad as earlier.

Business is not very optimistic when speculating on potential effectiveness of new anti-corruption authorities

29% of respondents think that National Corruption Prevention Agency, Anti-Corruption Bureau, and Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office (which, finally, got its chief few weeks ago) will be effective in tackling corruption, while 35% do not believe so. However, it's quite reassuring that many respondents opted for its own answer and most answered that they hope new bodies will be a game-changer.

Fighting corruption is the number one priority to improve business climate in Ukraine

Vast majority of respondents think that it is not the taxation burden or bureaucracy that keeps the investors away from Ukraine. If the government wants new business to come to Ukraine, it should prove its ability to put grafters to jail.

Only 51% of respondents are optimistic about prospects of anti-corruption fight in 2016

The numbers of optimists and pessimists are almost equal when it comes to assessing prospects of anti-corruption fight in the upcoming year. These are, frankly speaking, not the figures I expected to see (being a cautious optimist). Despite all the efforts government put in the anti-corruption reform, it was not enough to convince almost half of respondents there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It remains to be seen whether new bodies will respond to all the expectations many of us have of them.

Business does not think engaging to corruption is necessary to be successful in Ukraine

This one is pleasantly surprising. In 2014 39% of respondents thought that they do not need to engage in corruption practice to be competitive. This year, the number of respondents who believe in successful yet clean business increased to 65%. These figures provide some reassurance and indicate that business becomes even less tolerable to corruption.

To wrap up, the above messages show that business is not buying government’s willingness to fight corruption. At the same time, companies believe they may succeed without bribes, while demand some real changes in order for them to stay in Ukraine. Let’s just hope the government will listen to these demands and next year’s figures will dramatically improve.

If you would like to see Chamber’s infographic with some additional figures, check here. In case you are interested in a more detailed picture, send me an email and I will share full presentation.