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Half of all Turkish businesspeople believe corruption will continue, but don’t see it as top problem

Some 46 percent of Turkish business people believe corruption will increase in Turkey, according to a report issued by the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD), but few see corruption as one of the top three barriers to doing business in Turkey.

According to the report, titled “Corruption from the Perspective of Business people: Perceptions and Recommendations,” corruption is perceived as the biggest problem by those working in the transportation sector, but as the smallest problem by construction sector players. However, perhaps paradoxically, respondents in the construction sector believe corruption is a higher financial volume than respondents in other sectors.

“The results of our survey are not surprising, as we all know that corruption cases already exist and are increasing in many countries across the world, including Turkey. The biggest problem for the world is internalizing corruption as a fact of life and not being worried about it, then abandoning the fight against corruption,” said TÜSİAD head Haluk Dinçer during his speech to introduce the report.

Some 801 businesspeople filled out a detailed questionnaire in Istanbul in June-July 2014 as part of the research, which was carried out by the IPSOS Social Studies Institute.

The biggest three problems with doing business in Turkey for the respondents were identified as high taxes, labor costs and the informal economy. Bribery and corruption are seen mid-level problems.

The head of the project, lawyer and academic Gönenç Gürkaynak, says that the one out of every two businesspeople who believes corruption will continue in the future is higher than the global average. “We hoped to present solutions to this huge problem by preparing and elaborating this report,” Gürkaynak said.

The report also indicates that the business community is confused about what constitutes corruption. For example, responding to the question about whether requests for financial donations or equipment to public institutions by public officials should be seen an example of corruption, only 11 percent of respondents said “not exactly” and 7 percent said “absolutely not.”

The respondents see the three main causes of corruption as “income inequality,” the “profit and power seeking impulse,” and the “lack of legislation enforcement,” the report also revealed.

Shockingly, some 60 percent of respondents said they do not even report corruption, with 30 percent saying this is because “there is no legal reporting procedure,” 12 percent saying that reporting “would not yield any results,” and 6 percent worrying that reporting “could result in uncovering the identity of the one who is reported on.”

Around 70 percent of participants to the survey said collective action could curtail corruption or raise awareness of its effects, while for 54 percent of respondents, legal enforcement, auditing and clear sanctions are required.

“We all know corruption has been the case for a long time, but we are very uncomfortable with the possibility of any systemization and internalization of corruption. We believe every societal section has a role in the rise of corruption, either directly or indirectly,” TÜSİAD head Dinçer said.

“We couldn’t halt corruption unless everyone, from individuals to institutions, from private sector players to public sector players and NGOs, joins the fight. This is the case for all countries across the world,” he added.