Bribery demands on Italian households decline, official survey reports

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ROME (Reuters) - Corruption in Italy has declined over the last few years but remains a problem, with business owners and the self employed the most affected, a report published on Thursday by the national statistics bureau found.

The reduction, although significant, leaves a large number of Italians, particularly those in business, vulnerable to illicit demands that could impact their livelihoods and the overall economic landscape.

The number of demands for bribes received by Italian households in exchange for access to services or facilities fell to 1.3% in the last three years, from 2.7% in a similar survey conducted in 2015-2016, ISTAT said in its report.

Despite this downturn - which according to ISTAT may have been affected by COVID-19 pandemic - 5.4% of households have been asked to offer some form of bribe in the past in forms such as cash, favours or gifts.

Italy has in recent years been spared the high profile political corruption scandals that swept away its ruling class in the 1990s, but cases of alleged graft at a local level remain a problem that periodically comes to light, most recently in the city of Genoa.

According to ISTAT, 38.5% of those classified as entrepreneurs or self-employed said they could be obliged to offer sweeteners in return for access to services such as permits, contracts or to speed up legal proceedings, compared to a figure of 32.4% in the previous survey.

One person out of five would be prepared to pay for their child to get a job, with a higher percentage, 23.4%, in the south of Italy where unemployment is highest.

(Reporting by Antonella Cinelli, editing by Keith Weir)