It appears that bribery and corruption in Afghanistan are much more widespread than I had originally believed. While watching The Dylan Ratigan Show on MSNBC, a UN report mentioned shed light on the problem plaguing Afghanistan today.

According to the UN’s Office of Drugs and Crime, Afghanistan spends US$2.5 BILLION each year on bribery and corruption. That amounts to approximately 23% of Afghanistan’s GDP. That’s right — nearly one quarter of the money spent in Afghanistan goes to “greasing the wheels” and paying off corrupt officials. As has been reported previously, some of these government officials are incredibly high up, including President Karzai’s own brother.

This makes bribery and corruption the second largest portion of the Afghani economy, after the opium poppy cash crop. Nearly US$3 billion (according to the UN, US$2.8 billion) are spent each year in the opium poppy industry.

It is extremely sad to think that nearly 50% of the Afghani economy is either related to the opium trade or bribery/corruption. How can a country effectively run itself when so much money is going into such illicit sectors? Government officials who are personally enriching themselves and failing to provide services simply alienate the general public and create a spiral where people stop paying into the system, thus forcing more officials to resort to bribery. It also hinders needed capital from creating a real economy with opportunities so that people won’t need to turn to opium in order to make ends meet.

How can this cycle be broken so that the Afghani population can be finally live in peace and prosperity?

Written by Dan Logue