This week—the week of International Anti-Corruption Day—Egypt unveiled a new and official strategy to fight corruption. As Egyptians see it, civil servants and senior government officials have been largely to blame for the amount of corruption in the country. And many Egyptian citizens acquiesced, greasing the palms of government officials—about half of those surveyed two years ago admitted to having paid a bribe for a permit or to process a document.
In 2014, the WJP’s Rule of Law Index of 2014 indicated a shift in public concern, however, from public corruption to the lack of constraints on government powers.
So how did Egypt get there? The World Justice Project (WJP)—which conducts many of the country corruption surveys that collect such data—says that for years, people in power in Egypt created patronage networks in the civil service, judiciary, army, police and parts of the private sector that fed on public contracts. They and their contacts benefited from ‘rent-seeking’ (earning income free of competition). The institutional environment they relied on was based on little—if any—access to information; when it came to even minor bureaucratic decisions, ‘discretion’ (individual judgment) prevailed.