Business Shares Its Thoughts About Corruption in Ukraine: Seven Key Observations

Year ago I published a post highlighting the results of 2015 Corruption Perception Survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Ukraine. It was second time ACC asked businesses to share their thoughts about corruption in our country. Year passed, and I am glad to share the results of the Chamber’s third survey on this topic.

Before jumping to the results, I would like to tell you why I believe this initiative is valuable and useful.

First, it appears that government listens. During last two years we saw a growing interest of different state bodies, in particular, law enforcement authorities, to the results of the surveys. So, the business takes a chance and speaks. Speaks in a very open manner, as you will see later.

Second, the results demonstrate the dynamics. They show how the perception of corruption changes over the years, how business community acknowledges effective reforms which decrease corruption in certain sectors of economy and absence of such reforms in other areas.

Now, the results.

As it is impossible to cover all survey findings in a short post, I will limit my review to the most notable changes and observations. Here you can access presentation in pdf format to look through detailed results.

More businesses believe that corruption has decreased over the last year
When asked in 2014 and 2015, less than half of respondents expressed the opinion that corruption has decreased over the last year. Now, almost half believe so, which is a good indicator of progress in anti-corruption reform.

The most corrupt authorities in Ukraine are…
… Courts, tax and customs authorities, and prosecutor’s offices. Courts remain the unbeatable “leader” among the most corrupt institutions. This time, as a response to several comments in previous surveys, tax and customs authorities were included to the questionnaire and instantly ranked second surpassing the prosecutor’s offices.

The most effective anti-corruption authority in 2016
46 percent of respondents believe that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) proved to be the most effective in an effort to fight corruption in Ukraine. At the same time, 40 percent of surveyed think that none among listed institutions (the list included Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office, National Corruption Prevention Agency, and anti-corruption divisions within ministries) are effective in anti-corruption fight. In addition, NABU has been recognized as anti-corruption champion in 2016, surpassing the Ministry of Economy, NGOs and some People’s Deputies.

Corruption kills business opportunities
Almost half of respondents reported that corruption deters businesses from investing in Ukraine or expanding, while some businesses are under the risk of closure. In addition, 87 percent of the respondents expressed the opinion that fighting corruption should be the number one priority if the government is willing to improve business climate in Ukraine.

The political will to fight corruption is still not visible
When asked about the biggest obstacle in eliminating corruption, 63 percent of respondents pointed to the absence of political will, which is 15 percent more than previous year. Such picture shows that, despite all noted positive developments, in 2016 more businesses did not observe real commitment from authorities the government to fight corruption.

The biggest success in the anti-corruption fight in 2016 is…
… Implementation of the electronic public procurement. Positive developments in this area were also noted in many comments across the survey results.

Looking into 2017
47 percent of respondents are optimistic about prospects of anti-corruption fight in Ukraine in the upcoming year, while the rest are not. This is a slight decrease from last year’s 51 percent. Still, many of the surveyed expressed hope that 2017 will bring positive developments in this area.

As you can see, despite some positive changes, many businesses are still convinced that government did not perform well enough to decrease corruption in Ukraine. Without a doubt, many victories in this area, which the government tends to consider as its own, could not happen without continuous support from international community and relentless efforts of handful of anti-corruption activists.

In a year, with the results of the next survey, we will see whether those 53 percent of respondents who did not have high hopes for 2017 were too pessimistic. In the meantime, everyone who believes in better Ukraine without corruption must contribute to bringing new and securing gained positive developments in this area and making them irreversible.