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Narian Chengiah Naidoo
 
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Lobbying = Bribery = Lobbying = Bribery. No distinction

21 May 2014, 12:15


Lobbying, in general, refers to the act of trying to influence members of a legislative body to vote in favour of the ‘lobbyist’. In some governments, ‘lobbyists’ have formally recognized groups, whose interests are ‘lobbied’ for, that may be wholly or partially funded by organizations, or even nations. On a softer side, lobbying may just involve political support offered in return for political influence, or action. Lobbying that is legalized by a government does not involve financial support.

Bribery, on the other hand, involves offering money in return for political action or influence. Often this bribery comes in cash form, without involving bank transactions, and this is one of the reasons many lobbyists have been accused of bribery. Therefore, bribery is when money contributions are made to a political group in expectation of being favoured in political or legislative decisions. Priorities and decisions of legislators, the President, the Prime Minister, Ministers, Councillors alike, are defined by money handouts by lobbyists.
 
At times, there seems to be just a fine line between the two. Lobbyists have become very aggressive in pushing for their agendas, and this has led many to think that their practices have become unacceptable, as it unfairly swings the political landscape in favour of the rich and the big corporations that can use their monetary influence. Definitely, this kind of system has major drawbacks, since the concerns of the ‘common man’ will not matter if they are contrary to the interests of the big businesses. Some business leaders have such a grip on the avenues to power, that the gap between the businesses and the file and rank (who are the customers) is very wide.

Precisely put, bribery is when a business, individual or a group of individuals, offer cash or property in exchange for a specific influence in their favour. For instance, when a legislator tells his constituent that he will vote for certain legislation in return for a certain amount of money, then that is bribery.

Many times, proving a bribe can be as hard as it can be to distinguish between bribery (which is illegal) and lobbying (which is legal in some governments), unless informers are used. Informers will have to offer the real bribes, and tape the officials accepting the money offers. Alternatively, if there’s some written agreement with the official consenting to the bribery, it could also prove the acceptance of a bribe. Otherwise, proving a connection between the two parties without tangible evidence can seem like a ‘mountain to climb.’ 

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