Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore are the best places in the world to live in terms of transparency, accountability and lack of corruption, a new study reveals.
The worst countries are Somalia, Myanmar, Afghanistan and Iraq, according to the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index.
With governments though committing huge sums to tackle the world’s most pressing problems, from the instability of financial markets to climate change and poverty, corruption remains an obstacle to achieving much needed progress, the report from Transparency International says.
The Berlin based group defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. This definition encompasses corrupt practices in both the public and private sectors. It examined 178 countries giving them scores on a scale of 0 for highly corrupt and 10 for highly clean. The top three all scores 9.3 and the bottom, Somalia, just 1.1. But nearly three quarter of the countries scored below five.
The United States and the UK come 22 and 20 respectively, in the index while Australia and Switzerland are joint eighth. Canada is in sixth place, Finland and Sweden joint fourth, the Netherlands seventh and Hong Kong is in thirteenth place.
The reports says that to address these challenges governments need to integrate anti-corruption measures in all areas and all nations need to boost 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 to many global crises are at risk,’ it says.
It draws on different assessments and business opinion surveys carried out by independent and reputable institutions. It 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,’ the report explains.
‘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.
Transparency International 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,’ it adds.