Let me tell you a story.
Whether it is true or not, I will not confirm as this is a public blog. But all I can say is, if it is true, then it only happens in the Philippines.
A fire inspector walks into our office. He looks around and inquires where are the smoke alarms and emergency lights.
“Sir, those are preferable, not a requirement,” my secretary replied. “It’s not illegal. We have smoke alarms and emergency lights outside in our corridor, which is actually a requirement.”
The fire inspector once again looks around.
“I can only give you Php 200,” she said. “This is the only money we can give you.”
He hinted that life is tough and he needed to pay off two other people, his supervisor and his boss’ supervisor. It is clear that he is asking for a hand-out.
“In the end, how much do you need?” our straightforward secretary asked.
“Php 2,000,” he answered. “And I will make your problems go away.”
“Php 2,000 for what?” our secretary asked.
“Php 2,000 and I will not charge you for your smoke alarms and emergency lights. I will also not ask you to refill your fire extinguishers, which by the way you have to purchase from us.”
The fire inspector and his team have an approved vendor for fire extinguishers which they ask for a premium. Within the premium price is a cut for the fire inspector and a few other people.
I sighed. I was in the other room and I couldn’t really comprehend the extent on the graft and corruption that lay in the Philippines. Php 2,000 for example is an exorbitant amount of money for an imagined lack of requirement. And I knew that if we didn’t pay, the fire inspector would find another reason to ask for even more money.
This is one of the many reasons why the Philippines cannot compete with its Southeast Asian neighbors. Investors would always think that graft and corruption has already been addressed by our new president. Ha!
Personally, I think it is too much.
I refuse to pay the bribe. It’s not that it’s too big because it is not (e.g., the equivalent is around 5 days worth of a regular worker), but I refuse to pay when it is so greedy and blatant.
If you paid, you are helping a corrupt system.
If you don’t pay, they will make your life hell.
They will not allow you not to pay. Otherwise, you are setting a precedent to other business owners who do pay.
But once you pay, you have to continue.
What sort of shitty business environment is this? I have not seen such bullshit in Taiwan or in Hong Kong. And this problem is not isolated. It is universal.
Okay, off the soapbox now.