The cost of corruption in Afghanistan jumped to nearly $4 billion (£2.5bn) last year, while half of all Afghans bribed public officials, the UN warned today.
The international community has long expressed concern about corruption in Afghanistan because it discredits the Western-backed government and donor nations fear aid money could be diverted by corrupt officials.
Prime Minister Hamid Karzai has repeatedly publicly ordered his ministries to fight bribery, nepotism and cronyism, but to little effect.
A UN survey showed only slight improvement in curbing bribes for public services.
UN envoy Jean-Luc Lemahieu said: "Corruption means you don't get the best people in the public sector, you get the best connected."
Around half of the adult population had to pay at least one bribe to a public official in 2012, a 9 per cent drop from 2009, according to UN findings.
But the total cost of bribes paid to public officials rose 40 per cent to $3.9bn (£2.4bn).
Mr Lemahieu said that was double the revenue collected by the government to provide services.