A public opinion poll conducted by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) shows that one in five residents and entrepreneurs tolerate giving bribes to state or municipal officials, similarly acknowledging making informal payments, giving gifts or using personal contacts over the past two years to deal with a variety of professional or domestic situations.
Although the general public attitude towards corruption is negative, the opinion poll shows that 21% of residents and 19% of entrepreneurs concede the possibility of giving bribes to state or municipal officials. The polled groups most commonly substantiated such actions by a feeling of security - that the problems will be resolved and employees would be welcoming and helpful. The most common reasons among entrepreneurs were the unclear and complicated legal procedures, which require the help and assistance of an official.
20% of the polled residents, and 21% of entrepreneurs admitted having used informal methods for resolving various issues in the past two years, most commonly – personal contacts. Among residents such methods were mostly used to access healthcare services, obtain employment in state or municipal institutions and to resolve real-estate problems. Whereas entrepreneurs most commonly used such methods to resolve construction-related issues, to ensure participation in state or municipal procurements, as well as to receive permits and licences.
According to the opinion of the public and entrepreneurs, bribery of high and lower-level public officials is still a widespread problem in Latvia. Contrary to the prevailing public opinion, entrepreneurs expressed confidence that bribery in Latvia has decreased over the last four years. Entrepreneurs also expressed a much more positive view of the honesty of state and municipal institutions than the general public.
To reduce the spread of corruption in Latvia, 92% of the respondents believe that it is necessary to ensure greater openness of information in the lobbying process, and 89% - that stricter control of public procurement is needed. Meanwhile, 52% of the polled entrepreneurs believe that more severe penalties should be imposed on bribe-takers and bribe-givers, and 44% - that officials should be recruited through open competition.
The public opinion poll was conducted within the scope of the “Support for the establishment of a whistle-blowing system in Latvia”, for which KNAB has been awarded a EUR 552 500 grant from EEZ grants of Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway. The objective of the project is to facilitate public participation in reporting corruptive and other latent violations, while simultaneously providing the public with a secure and convenient reporting channel, as well as enhancing KNAB capacity in discovering and investigation corruptive offences.
The public opinion poll covered 1001 respondents over the age of 18, and 421 companies operating in Latvia. The survey was conducted by the market and social research center "Latvian Facts" on behalf of KNAB during the period from 8 February 2010 to 23 February 2021.