This year's Corruption Perceptions Index shows that nearly three quarters of the 178 countries included in the index, scored below five, on a scale from 10 (very clean) to 0 (highly corrupt). These results indicate a serious corruption problem.
Transparency International (TI) defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) ranks countries according to perception of corruption in the public sector. The CPI is an aggregate indicator that combines different sources of information about corruption, making it possible to compare countries.
The 2010 CPI captures information about the administrative and political aspects of corruption. Broadly speaking, the surveys and assessments used to compile the index include questions relating to bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds, and questions that probe the strength and effectiveness of public sector anti-corruption efforts.
Perceptions are used because corruption – whether frequency or amount – is to a great extent a hidden activity that is difficult to measure. Over time, perceptions have proved to be a reliable estimate of corruption. Measuring scandals, investigations or prosecutions, while offering ‘non-perception’ data, reflect less on the prevalence of corruption in a country and more on other factors, such as freedom of the press or the efficiency of the judicial system. TI considers it of critical importance to measure both corruption and integrity, and to do so in the public and private sectors at global, national and local levels. The CPI is therefore one of many TI measurement tools that serve the fight against corruption.
This years index finds Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore are tied at the top of the list with a score of 9.3, followed closely by Finland and Sweden at 9.2. At the bottom is Somalia with a score of 1.1, slightly trailing Myanmar and Afghanistan at 1.4 and Iraq at 1.5. Notable among decliners over the past year are some of the countries most affected by a financial crisis precipitated by transparency and integrity deficits. Among those improving in the past year, the general absence of OECD states underlines the fact that all nations need to bolster their good governance mechanisms.
The message is clear: across the globe, transparency and accountability are critical to restoring trust and turning back the tide of corruption. Without them, global policy solutions too many global crises are at risk.