A facilitating payment is a small bribe made to expedite the performance of a routine or necessary action to which the payer is already entitled. For example, an international corporation wants to set up a new subsidiary in a country in which it has never done business before. In this country, the massive amount of time required to obtain the necessary permits is legendary. Accordingly, the company’s in-country representative makes a number of facilitation payments to show his appreciation to various government agencies for their prompt attention to his company’s licensing needs. Facilitating payments are usually made to government officials. The legal treatment of facilitating payments varies by jurisdiction – some consider it illegal, while others do not.
As another example, a traveler is passing through the airport of a small pacific island nation, where the national airline is notorious for losing passenger luggage. The traveler makes a small cash payment to a baggage attendant to ensure that the baggage will be delivered to the correct plane in a timely manner. This payment can be classified as a facilitating payment, since it is essentially expediting the luggage delivery, to which the person was already entitled.
The key difference between a facilitating payment and a bribe is that a bribe is intended to acquire a new benefit to which the payer is not already entitled, while a facilitating payment is intended to increase the speed of delivery of a service to which the payer is already entitled.