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Afghanistan, India, Myanmar among world's most corrupt

Nov 18, 2009

Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Somalia, Myanmar are among the most corrupt nations of the world, says Transparency International’s new annual index. The report says that countries plagued by long-standing conflicts tend to be most corrupt because of the collapse of governance infrastructure.

Berlin: Afghanistan and Iraq, countries that receive billions of dollars a year in international support, are among the world's most corrupt nations, a watchdog group said in a report released Tuesday.

Lawless Somalia remained the world's most corrupt country, followed by Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan and Iraq, Transparency International said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index [To view the complete list, please click here].

Singapore, Denmark and New Zealand were the most principled countries around the globe, it said.

"The results demonstrate that countries which are perceived as the most corrupt are also those plagued by long-standing conflicts, which have torn their governance infrastructure," the report said.

The ranking measures perceived levels of public sector corruption in 180 countries and draws on surveys of businesses and experts.

"Stemming corruption requires strong oversight by parliaments, a well performing judiciary ... anti-corruption agencies, vigorous law enforcement ... as well as space for independent media and a vibrant society," Transparency chairwoman Huguette Labelle said in a statement.

She added that the international community must find ways to help war-torn countries to develop their own institutions.

The Berlin-based organization attributed the least corruptible countries' strong performance to their "political stability, long-established conflict of interest regulations and solid, functioning public institutions."

Afghanistan, which slipped to 179th place from 176th, has been dogged by corruption for years. Under heavy pressure from the US government, Afghan President Hamid Karzai unveiled an anti-corruption unit and major crime fighting force on Monday following his fraud-tainted re-election.

Karzai's inability or unwillingness to tackle cronyism and bribery the past five years has given Taliban insurgents another argument with which to win support from the Afghan people. Nations supplying troops and aid are running out of patience with his government.

Transparency said public-sector corruption is rampant in Afghanistan.
"Examples of corruption range from public posts for sale and justice for a price to daily bribing for basic services," the report noted.

The United States, which was in 19th place compared with 18th last year, remained stable despite Transparency's concerns over a lack of government oversight of the financial sector.

"A swift government response to the financial crisis and moves towards regulatory reforms that include transparency and accountability measures may play a role in the country's score," the report said.

"Nonetheless, it remains to be seen whether proposed reforms are far-reaching enough and to what extend they will be implemented."

The report also pointed out that the U.S. legislature is another reason for concern, as it is "perceived to be the institution most affected by corruption."

There were some bright spots in the new report – Bangladesh, Belarus, Guatemala, Lithuania, Poland and Syria were among the countries that improved the most.

While corruption in Bangladesh is still widespread, "a caretaker government's nationwide crackdown on corruption during 2007-2008 and the instruction of institutional and legal reforms" have improved the conditions.

In Poland, the establishment of a ministerial office for anti-corruption and an increased number of investigations into corruption have improved the situation.
"No region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption," the watchdog's report said.

India amongst the most corrupt

India continues to be one of the most corrupt nations in the world with many of its public institutions given to rampant misdeeds. Corruption is India's bane and threatens to derail its rapidly growing economy.

The country ranks a dismal 84th in a list of 180 countries, according to the report.

The corruption watchdog says that many African, East European and Latin American nations fare much better than India.

If it is any consolation, India actually climbed one spot up from 85th (it's 2008 rank) to 84th. India's integrity score this year is 3.4, down from 3.5 in 2007, says the survey. Its score in 2006 was 3.3.

Till 2007, India shared the slot with China, but Beijing has managed to cut down corruption and is ranked 79th in this year's list.

However, this is not an indication that India has become more corrupt but that nations like China now appear less corrupt. While Pakistan and Bangladesh are ranked at 139, Sri Lanka is ranked at 97.

China has launched a sustained anti-corruption drive and intensified a crackdown on corruption in the public sector, investigating and prosecuting ministers, public officials and employees.

Corrupt officials above provincial levels were disciplined and preventive measures to deal with stimulus packages to tackle the financial crisis have helped keep China's score stable in 2009, though still low at 3.6.

The report was originally published by Associated Press.

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