84% of businesses see favouritism, corruption as hampering competition

84% of Malta’s businesses see favouritism and corruption as hampering competition, 64% see bribery and the leveraging of connections as the easiest way to obtain public services, and 35% feel the only way to succeed in business is to have political connections.

In the latest Eurobarometer survey published by the EU on Friday, 55% of Maltese businesses reported that nepotism and patronage were the primary problems they faced when doing business. In comparison, 56% of Malta’s businesses cited general corruption.

The rates are far higher than those of their European counterparts, of which only 37% (nepotism and patronage) and 35% (corruption) felt such issues were problematic.

70% of Maltese businesses have also said that close links between the business and political arenas lead to corruption.

Corruption in public tenders

31% of Maltese businesses felt that corruption had prevented them from winning a public tender over the last three years, while 45% replied in the negative.

Conflicts of interest when it comes to the evaluation of public procurement bids were listed by 68% of respondents as the major problem with public tenders. That was followed by the involvement of bidders in the design of specifications (63%), collusive bidding (61%), the abuse of emergency grounds to justify the use of noncompetitive or fast track procedures (56%), the use of negotiated procedures – i.e. direct orders – (48%) and amendments being made to the terms of contracts after they are awarded (47%).

76% of businesses, compared with 92% of the general population, thought that the overall problem of corruption is widespread across the country.

Among the leading factors identified were 44% of businesses citing the funding political parties in exchange for public contracts or influence over policy-making; 41% cited the favouring friends and/or family members in public institutions, 37% listed the favouring friends and/or family members in business and; 28% cited bribery and 25% mentioned kickbacks. Another 20% referred to the practice of offering a gift or trip in exchange for a service.

Little faith in court judgements

Malta’s businesses also appear to have little faith that the courts deliver justice as advertised.

47% of businesses said it was likely that people or businesses engaging in corrupt practices would face charges and go to court, and 43% feel they get off scot-free.

45% believe they would be caught by or reported to the police or prosecutors, compared with 46 % who believe they wouldn’t.

But when it came to whether they would be heavily fined or imprisoned by the courts, only 23% of businesses were confident of that, compared with 66% of businesses that felt otherwise.

41% of businesses agreed, and 44% disagreed that people and businesses caught for petty corruption are appropriately punished in Malta.

In comparison, only 37% of businesses agreed that measures against corruption are applied impartially and without ulterior motives, compared with 47% that disagreed with the statement.

But, again, there was little faith in proper punishments being meted out by the courts, with 33% of businesses agreeing that people and businesses caught bribing a senior official are appropriately punished, compared with the majority, 56%, who disagreed.

Nine in 10 feel links between politics and business too close for comfort

Compared to the business community’s 76%, 92% of the general population sees corruption as widespread.

Bribery and the abuse of power were viewed by 79% of the population as being rampant in the political arena, followed by officials awarding building permits and public tenders – at 78% and 73%, respectively.

65% of people believed graft was involved when it came to issuing business permits – up 15 points from 2022, while 84% of the general population agreed that bribery and the leveraging of connections as the easiest way to obtain public services of any kind.

91% of Maltese believe that links between politicians and business are too close for comfort and lead to corruption, while 87% believe corruption is simply part of the country’s business culture.

The perspective of the business sector was part of a broader study that showed that over 90% of the population believed corruption was rampant in Malta.

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A. Fan
A. Fan
2 months ago

A government of the people, …. for the government (with due apologies to the ghost of Mr. Wycliffe).

Francis Said
Francis Said
2 months ago

The saying: It is who you know not what you know is very true in Malta. One might also add, how much one pays is also high up in Malta’s achieving results.
We are worse that USA or in countries ruled by dictators (Russia and Belarus come to mind) where corruption is rampant that the above saying is also applicable.
Achieving power is the be all and end all. What a sorry state for true democracy.

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