It’s Time to Fix the Top Problem Plaguing Mexico

3/9/2016 The National Interest

9085212846_3cb274caea_bCorruption dominates Mexico’s headlines: helicopter rides for officials’ family members, housing deals from favored government contractors, the still unexplained disappearance of 43 students and a drug lord escaping a maximum-security prison, for the second time. In a recent survey, Mexicans listedcorruption as the country’s top problem, ahead of security and the economy.

In absolute terms corruption eats away at Mexico’s growth. The think tank IMCO estimates the costs at $53 billion, or five percent of GDP. It increases the costs of doing business, with bribes for permits and government contracts tacking on up to ten percent according to Transparency International. And business owners face an uneven playing field—65 percent report that on at least one occasion a competitor offered a bribe or tapped personal relationships to win new business. By undercutting the market, corruption stifles excellence, deters investment and hinders growth.

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