Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Roots of corruption: the episode Pfizer

One of the main incentives of corruption is when you know that you will always find people keen to pay you more in exchange of a basic service. The more bureaucratic and obscure the system, the more temptations for companies and individuals to accept the extra fees for quality.

The health system is one of the main targets of corrupt people: in many countries form all over the world, the medicine and normal medical service cannot be obtained for free, despite the fact that some of those going to the doctor are life-long tax payers. You need to bribe the nurses for a good meal and the pharmacist for the basic medicine. 

As in the case of the fight for resources in Africa, the fight for survival in many former communist countries implies the presence of many big international companies. By paying bribes - many included in the category of 'protocol' and 'local maintenance costs' - the big companies operating at the local level have the guarantee of a successful business. And, it is enough that one big player accepts the rules of the local games: later, it will be difficult to play otherwise.

The recent bribery case of Pfizer reminded me of all those unacceptable situations that are very often the norm overseas. The bribes were paid for gaining regulatory approval from authorities in, among others, Russia, China, Croatia, Bulgaria and Kazahstan. I wish more it is written about how those countries - many of them EU members - are rotten by the corruption that viciates completely the perspectives of life and politics for a long time from now. Media is corrupt by journalists accepting to write (only) in exchange of small attentions, the international companies are fuelling the underground economy by supporting local politicians, the MPs are ready to support only the cause of the big lobbysts that paid them accordingly. 

Maybe at least for a couple of generations, it is not too much to be done there? I expect that Pfizer is only the top of the iceberg of corruption in Eastern Europe.

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