Armenian Perspective: THAT COMPLICATED THING CALLED “CORRUPTION”

by Anna Astvatsatryan

I was driving home and talking on the phone with a friend, so the police stopped me. I know, I know, you shouldn’t use mobile devices while driving. So I was completely ready to answer for my “crime” and pay the fine, which in my country you are able to pay on spot.

Anyhow, after parting ways with the police officer, I remembered that usually you need to sign a receipt of payment, which he never asked me to do. All of a sudden, I found myself in the middle of a bribery act, that I didn’t even realize.

Corruption is a very tricky matter. It can halt the development of a whole country and destroy democracy. It can help people avoid useless regulations and paperwork, therefore save a lot of time and money. For example, a study showed that in countries with high number of regulations, corruption actually helps new entrepreneurs to start a business and enter the market. It also has a so-called “greasing” effect for importers, when they can avoid a line and paperwork at the customs by just paying a bribe.

If we dig deeper, corruption is in a way compensating the lack of trust between the government and people. It helps businesses have at least some kind of a guarantee from the government official. If there was more trust in justice and equal opportunities for every business or individual, the power of corruption would decrease significantly.

But how can you build trust with an official that would rather take a bribe?

Well you could try by these:

  1. Build trust with your partners, competitors and other citizens
  2. Know your rights (I could have avoided paying a bribe if I remembered the official fine payment procedure)
  3. Ask for advice. There actually are people called lawyers that know what you can and cannot do, your rights and responsibilities, the Constitution of your country and a lot of other very useful and extremely important information, and you don’t always have to pay for their services.

Corruption can still be harmful or beneficial, depending on the case. Nevertheless, building trust will help decrease a lot of the harmful and unnecessary corruption and create a civil society that does not need any corruption at all.

 

Global Update: VP Biden in India

Vice President Biden urged India to lower barriers to foreign trade and investment on Wednesday, July 24th 2013, in order to strengthen its economy.

Foreign businesses, including Wal-Mart, have reduced their investment plans in the country. India’s weak public policy has led its foreign direct investments to crumble by 21% this past fiscal year.

Sreeram Chaulia, a professor at the Jindal School of International Affairs in Haryana, claims “India’s value as a market for U.S. goods and investment is losing sheen. What the Americans don’t want to see in India is protectionist and populist policies.”

In order to increase investment in the country, Michael Froman, the U.S. Trade Representation, pointed out that “investors look for a consistent commitment to, not sporadic outbursts of, reforms. Most importantly, they look for the enduring confidence that comes from long-term, sustained, high levels of growth.”

If India chooses to follow Froman’s advice, US companies will pounce on the opportunity to get a foothold in this lucrative market and growth will soon be at her doorstep.

Opening Old Wounds

The European Union has faced cultural hurdles in getting member countries such as Poland to agree to a proposed population-based EU voting system, due to historical bitterness over Germany’s Nazi past. With a population of 82 million, Germany has the largest population of any EU member country. At the 2007 EU summit, the Polish Prime Minister stunned other EU leaders by claiming that Poland (with a current population of 38 million) has 28 million fewer people today as a result of World War II (1939-45). He accused the Germans of “incomprehensible crimes” against his country, as it was Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 that triggered the outbreak of war. While his views might not necessarily reflect the general feelings of the Polish population, his comments indicate that such attitudes still exist seven decades after the event.

In Asia, one of the challenges in achieving economic integration is a sense of resentment and suspicion felt to a certain degree towards the Japanese, due to Japan’s military occupation of such countries as China (in the 1930s) and Korea (1910-45). The Japanese called their attempt to dominate the Asia-Pacific the “Co-Prosperity Sphere”. Despite modern-day relationship-building efforts, there are considerable historical obstacles to overcome.

Is the past just the past? How should world leaders look beyond culturally engrained historical antagonisms to cooperate on modern-day issues? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Detrimental Effects of a Sequester

Traveling around the country and waiting through airport security is already a hassle. But on Friday, February 22nd the White House warned Americans of even longer waiting times as a result of the mandatory government spending cuts that may go into effect next week Friday. Sequestration is an effect of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that raised the debt ceiling in stages as long as government spending cuts were made.

If no compromise on budget cuts is found between the White House and Congress, then the sequester will automatically be effective and government funding will be reduced across the board.
These budget cuts MAY result in a furlough of many people and a reduction in government services. On the other hand, without budget cuts the debt burden of the country keeps increasing, much to the detriment of future generations.

As the old saying goes: You can pay now or you can pay later.