Monday, February 1, 2016

How to Eliminate Corruption?

Interactions between the public and the providers of government services creates an opportunity for corrupt practices.  When a citizen seeks a service from a government, such as plan approval for constructing house,  or registration of a house,  a bribe amount may be sought by a government official who is designated to deliver the service from the citizen.  Or the official may just be expecting some gift as a gesture of goodwill.  Whatever may be the name given, the transaction of this nature could introduce unequal delays and unpleasant human interactions while delivering the government services to the public.  

The nature of this transaction (bribe, gift or goodwill) has multiple aspects.  The first being, lack of self pride of those who seek money for the job they are designated to perform. The second being, lack of administrative measures and followups to prevent such a trend.  Third is lack of clarity and conviction on the part of the public about the necessity of such payments. Fourth is inherent attitude of people to acknowledge the help and service provided by a person.  

While the first one can be addressed by proper upbringing of children by their parents, the second is a characteristic of good governance.   Third is related to the public awareness, the fourth is one of the basic nature of humans.  

To eliminate corruption, all these must be addressed.  The factors that can be influenced through administrative measures is discussed here.  FIrst thing to be noted here is that the administrative measures should be aligned with human nature rather than in conflict with them.  Specifically, if expressing gratitude is an inherent human nature, the administrative measure should not curb such an expression.   Similarly, the goverment policies, such as education,  should be aligned to instill a sense of pride among people and instill conviction against corruption in them. 

The processess that are followed during providing (government) services could be modified to eliminate corruption.   For example, typically, a citizen is asked to remit a prescribed amount of fee to the government to receive the service.  Government officials who actually deliver the service when expect some money from the citizens, then corruption cycle is initiated.  One way to address this problem is to officially announce an amount for each service to be given by the citizen to the government official who renders the service.  Alternatively stated, the prescribed government fee for rendering the service should have two components.  The first component is remitted to the government exchequer and the second component is paid to the official after receiving the service from him/her.  This accommodates the nature of people to acknowledge the help and service.  At the same time, may discourage officials to demand more money.  

As a further step, a flexible component is to be introduced into the salary of government officials who render services to the public.   The flexible component may be decided based on citizen feedback on the quality of service that they receive.  If the flexible component is more than the second component,  the officials are more keen to receive positive feedback and less keen to receive negative feedback from citizens.  Emerging capabilities of ICT may be used to keep the feedback confidential but still objective and credible.  

For those officers,  who are not in direct touch with the public,  the positive feedback of those who are in touch with the public may be accumulated to generate public feedback.  A positive feedback for subordinates should have a positive effect on the emoluments of the higher officer.  If required, the same mechanism may be extended to other real life stakeholders such as politicians and elected representatives.  

This would bring a positive effect in managing the harmful effects of corruption.  It is not surprising if the corruption is eliminated completely through these kind of measures.