Seven Invalid Excuses in Ethiopia’s context serving as iron value pillars for the rent collection and corruption-Part-II

Excuse 5. “In many countries in which the government is not efficient to render rapid services for the people, there are severe shortages of basic necessaries for production, and there are bad people everywhere, rent collection tactic or corruption is not harmful at all. It serves as a morally acceptable alternative, and supplies genuine citizens with the grease for the wheels of the economy, and the glue of the political system. This is evident in Ethiopia that the state should tolerate a degree of positively intended rent collection so far as it helps to facilitate development activity”

True, corrupt equilibria do exist only at individual level in industrialized societies where benefits lost through corruption or rent collection and advantages gained from the practice could match somehow.

But both theoretical models and empirical studies show that they are inferior to equilibria with less corruption in developed states while they have concertized that any form of rent collection in developing states like Ethiopia have always adverse effects on equality and rapid development.

In other words, if a high level Ethiopian government official collects bribes and pays every penny of them for the construction of schools and other public infrastructure, still this is an illegal and morally unacceptable practice of rent collection and corruption. Poverty with its potential of rent-free development is much better than development through rent collecting and corrupt means.

Excuse 6. “There is nothing that can be done if the man or woman on top in the higher government office is a rent collector or corrupt, or if corruption is systematic. In Ethiopia, rent and corruption free officials and experts are few in number. Therefore, if you claim you hate corruption or you are against rent collection, then you are alone at a dangerously vulnerable position that they will fire or attack you eventually. What is the reward to be anti rent collection practice in a vast ocean of rent seekers and corrupt people everywhere unless you are foolish?”

It is more propitious for and rent seeking and anti-corruption efforts when leaders are clean and if rent collection and corruption are episodic rather than routine.

But success stories show that improved systems lead to fewer opportunities for everyone, the political powers or experts or any body, to reap corrupt rents. Systematic corruption and entrenched rent collecting values and practices can be reduced.

Excuse 7. “Worrying about rent seeking phenomena and corruption is superfluous while the Ethiopian state controls everything as an agency of state capitalism. Everything from metal works to huge industries and land are properties of the state. This dwindles the chance for rent collection and corruption to disappear naturally by the uncontrolled operations of the free markets and multiparty democracy.”

Democracy and markets enhance competition and accountability, thereby reducing rent seeking tendencies and corruption. But during transitions from poverty to development, rent collection and corruption may increase because the involvement of the state is unavoidably high despite a well functioning democracy and a multiparty system.

And even in stable democracies in the West, rent seeking and corruption are, at times, a threat to the provision of many public goods and services will a virtual absence of monopoly of the state. Untimely withdrawal of the Ethiopian government from its involvement in filling gaps created by market failures could prove rather more dangerous than otherwise.

Conclusions

We saw that rent-seeking behavior in Ethiopia is a sociological reality enjoying supportive values, groupings, and institutions. That the government elevates the issue is an encouraging step. Policy mechanism of fighting rent seeking behavior and corruption implies to state commitment and determination to develop national anti-rent collection and anticorruption spirit by playing exemplary roles and taking decisive policy measures. Socio-economic development, national security, democratization, foreign affairs, welfare and all other policies are expected to lay down policy directives of fighting rent collection and corruption depending on the special responsibilities they have been assigned to perform. Policy mechanisms of anti-corruption struggle are basically value development responsibilities realizable by way of convincing the people that rent seeking behavior has never been part of national development efforts and will never be in the future. Polices should encourage public participation in fighting rent seeking and should ensure that anticorruption values are heroic and patriotic deserving respect and recognition.

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