The Lebanese government loses $1.5 billion annually because of corruption in the administration, according to a report by the United Nations report published here on Tuesday.
Two thirds of the losses mainly come from uncollected electricity bills and public land fees, particularly on coastal property, said the report prepared by Information International, a local private company contracted by the UN Center for International Crime Prevention.
A crackdown on corruption could cut the government's $3.5-billion forecast budget deficit almost by half, it indicated.
One third of all households, or some 300,000 units, do not pay electricity bills and another 40 percent do not receive bills because they do not have meters installed, it said.
Such poor collection cost the state company, Electricite du Liban, losses of some $400 million annually, or half the cost of the power it distributes, it said.
It said significant losses stemmed from the some three million square meters (30 million square feet) of illegal constructions on coastal property.
The report said more than 43 percent of private companies "always or very frequently" pay bribes, and another 40 percent "sometimes."
It also noted a weak sense of civic duty, with only 12 percent of citizens reporting cases of corruption.
The report blamed the corruption in Lebanon on the legacy of lawlessness and chaos during the country's 1975-1990 civil war, low salaries of civil servants, non-independence of the judicial authorities, sectarianism and tribalism, foreign interference in the administration, laxity in law enforcement, lack of awareness and reporting of graft and corrupt politicians. — (AFP, Beirut)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )