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    Governance

    Afghans paid $3.9 billion in bribes in 2012: UN

    KABUL (PAN): A UN study released Thursday said half of all Afghans paid a bribe to public officials last year, indicating a sharp rise in the cost of corruption in Afghanistan.

    Jointly complied by the world body's office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Afghanistan's anti-corruption unit, the report found the total cost of corruption increased to $3.9 billion in 2012 -- 40 percent high against 2009's.

    The survey, based on a representative sample of 6,700 citizens interviewed across the country, said Afghans paid in 2012 equaled double Afghanistan's domestic revenue or one-fourth of the Tokyo pledge, referring to the id="mce_marker"6 billion promised by donors at a conference in Tokyo last year.

    "Nobody doubts the seriousness of the issue, the art is to design the correct strategy to remedy the situation," said UNODC regional representative Jean-Luc Lemahieu.

    More than 68 percent of those surveyed considered it acceptable for a civil servant to top up a low salary by accepting small bribes -- up from 42 percent in 2009, the report noted.

    And 67 percent considered it "sometimes acceptable" for a civil servant to be recruited on the basis of family ties and friendship networks -- also up from 42 percent four years ago.

    While the cost of corruption had risen, the total number of people paying bribes had dropped from 58 percent in 2009 to 50 percent last year -- but they were paying more often.

    President Hamid Karzai in December blamed foreigners for most of the corruption in his country and said the withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 would help rid Afghanistan of graft.

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