Perception of corruption worsened by financial crisis – report

2010-10-26 09:29

The countries worst hit by the global financial crisis – including the United States, Greece, Italy and Hungary – saw trust in public institutions decline as a consequence, according to a report released today.

Campaign group Transparency International called on the members of the Group of 20 leading industries to tackle corruption in the aftermath of the financial crisis, as they released their 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.

Huguette Labelle, the chair of Transparency International, praised the G20 for making “strong commitments to transparency and integrity ahead of their November summit in Seoul”.

“But the process of reform itself must be accelerated,” Labelle said.

Greece fell to joint 78th overall position after this year’s debt crisis, down from 71 last year, ranking the country’s perceived institutional corruption alongside that of China, Lesotho and Colombia.

Hungary and Italy both fell four places to 50 and 67th position, respectively. The US slipped to 22nd overall rank in the 2010 report, down from 19th position the previous year.

The Corruption Perception Index draws on 13 different expert and business surveys that ask executives, risk assessors and journalists, among others, how serious they thought corruption was, or how widespread bribery was seen to be in a given country.

According to the report, of the 36 countries committed to the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development’s anti-bribery convention, 20 showed little or no enforcement of the rules.

“We would like the governments and countries to behave domestically as they say they do or as they encourage others to do globally,” said Francois Valerian of Transparency International.

At the top of the list, Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore ranked jointly as having the world’s lowest perceived corruption.

The worst country was Somalia in 178th position, followed by Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq.

In 154th place, Russia fared worse than Iran, Zimbabwe and Mexico.

Haiti made a surprise leap to 146th position, up from 168th rank last year, possibly as a result of the country’s organisation of rescue efforts after this year’s devastating earthquake.

Kuwait also improved its rank to joint 54th position alongside South Africa, up from 66th place last year after political changes, including the election of women to parliament, were introduced in 2009.

While perception of corruption serves as a useful indicator of actual malpractice, a drop in ranking can also reveal the extent to which corruption previously went unnoticed – as in the case of financial activities uncovered by the global crisis.

“This index does not measure corruption because it is extremely difficult to objectively measure a phenomenon that is hidden by nature,” Valerian said.

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