Afghans paid approximately USD1 billion in bribes for public services in 2009, according to a survey which also found that corruption in the country doubled since 2007. The study, which was conducted by Integrity Watch Afghanistan, found that the average value of bribes paid by citizens in 2009 was USD156, the Guardian reports. The U.K newspaper noted that average per capital income in the country is USD502 per year. Bribes were paid to obtain public services and to secure sources of income, the study said. It also found that more half of Afghanistan’s population believes corruption was fueling the Taliban’s expansion.
Meanwhile, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he plans to appeal to the U.N. for the removal of 50 ex-Taliban officials from the international body’s blacklist. Karzai’s gesture was seen by many as part of his bid to advance reconciliation talks with Taliban insurgents, a senior government official said, according to the Washington Post. On the part of the U.N., several key officials said they want more evidence that the individuals have renounced violence, severed all ties with the Taliban and al-Qaeda and embraced the country’s new constitution.