The drugs trade and corruption generate more money than lawful economic activities in Afghanistan. Opium sales generated an estimated US$2.8 billion in 2009, while in the same year Afghans paid $2.5 billion in bribes to government officials, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
The drug-cum-corruption economy of $5.3 billion in 2009 is more than the $4.4 billion earmarked in 2010 for running the government and financing the development budget.
The overwhelming victims of corruption and drug-induced insecurity are ordinary Afghans, according to the Ministry of Counter-Narcotics (MCN).
“It is almost impossible to obtain a public service in Afghanistan without greasing a palm: bribing the authorities is part of everyday life,” said a UNODC survey, which described corruption as “the biggest problem” in the eyes of Afghans. “Bribery not only robs the poor and causes misallocation of resources, it destroys trust in government.”
Jean-Luc Lemahieu, UNODC’s country representative, was skeptical of the notion of linking drug money with corruption “yet nobody can argue that drug money and corruption are one unholy alliance sharing the same sick bed,” he told IRIN.
International mafia to blame?
AFGHANISTAN: Running on drugs, corruption and aid
Is US and Indian humanitarian aid going down the drain or increasing drug trade? Is the drug trade financing terror factories in Pakistan and Afghanistan?