Corruption remains a problem impinging the progress of El Salvador's economy. This week, La Prensa revealed the details of a report concerning corruption in the Vice Ministry of Transportation. The report found that because of a lack of organization and reliable controls in the government body, there was an out-of-control black market for the licenses which authorize buses to run on various routes throughout the country.
The University of Central America's Proceso weighed in with a commentary proclaiming that the ARENA government was running the country for a selective group of big businesses. To succeed in business you need to know how to grease the wheels:
Generally, the businessmen interested in providing goods or services to the government, obtaining a license, or performing different kinds of procedures must do illegal expenditures on the official responsible for the transaction, which is understood as gratitude. That is how some businessmen give them presents or hand them a piece of the deal, invite them to lunch, pay for their trips abroad, give them cash, or give them free products or services. The best way to win a bid for a project is to pay to a public official a percentage of the contracts value. The procedures followed by the customs service, and obtaining a license, permits, the certificate of sanitation, or the environmental certificate turn faster with diverse expenditures.
The commentary notes that the lack of transparency and honest practices impedes investment in the country.
For those of you who like indexes and rankings, the 2004 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranked El Salvador 51 out of 146 countries when it came to corruption. (A lower ranking meant a cleaner government).