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“Corruption kills people” says Transparency Int'l 2020 corruption index

Nuku'alofa, Tonga

The best countries on the 2020 Corruption Perception Index are New Zealand and Denmark with scores of 88. However, two thirds of countries scored below 50/100 and public sector corruption was deadlier than ever during the pandemic. “The results make one thing clear – corruption kills people,” stated Transparency International this week in releasing their report.

COVID-19 is not just a health and economic crisis. It is a corruption crisis, and one that we are currently failing to manage. The past year has tested governments like no other in memory, and those with higher levels of corruption have been less able to meet the challenge. But even those at the top of the CPI must urgently address their role in perpetuating corruption at home and abroad,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, TI’s chair.

“Our analysis shows corruption not only undermines the global health response to COVID-19, but contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy. 2020 proved to be one of the worst years in recent history, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating effects.

“The health and economic impact on individuals and communities worldwide has been catastrophic. More than 90 million people were infected, and nearly 2 million people lost their lives around the world,” the report stated, “...with countless lives lost due to the insidious effects of corruption undermining a fair and equitable global response.”

“From bribery to embezzlement to overpricing and favouritism, corruption in health care takes many forms.”

Under the Corruption Perceptions Index 2020 180 countries and territories that were ranked by their perceived levels of Public Sector Corruption according to experts and business people, using a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year’s CPI paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. TI reports that while most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in nearly a decade, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50. For the 180 countries analyzed, the average score was just 43.

Top performers

With a score of 88, New Zealand is consistently one of the top performers on the CPI, both
in the region and around the world, but could do better where, “more transparency is needed around public procurement for COVID-19 recovery.” Top ranked Denmark and New Zealand (88) were followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland, with scores of 85 each, followed by Australia (77) and Hong Kong (77).

However, “Despite some progress, most countries are failing to tackle corruption effectively.”

The bottom countries are South Sudan and Somalia, with scores of 12 each, followed by Syria (14), Yemen (15) and Venezuela (15).

Asia Pacific Countries

With an average score of 45, the Asia Pacific region struggles to combat corruption and tackle the profound health and economic impact of COVID-19.

According to Transparency International, in some Pacific countries, COVID-19 and Cyclone Harold exposed several cracks in already weak governance systems. Civil society actors and allies across Vanuatu (43), Papua New Guinea (27) and the Solomon Islands (42) called for greater transparency and accountability.

“After decades of tireless efforts, Papua New Guinea PNG celebrated a huge victory last year with the passing of legislation to establish an anti-corruption commission. Similarly, the Solomon Islands appointed the first ever director general of its national anti-corruption commission, which can now focus on recruiting and training staff to get up and running.”

Tonga enacted an Anti-corruption Commission Act in 2007 but since then an Anti-corruption Commissioner has not been appointed.

Tonga was not ranked in the index this year.

Corruption Perceptions Index 2020

Transparency International, a global movement with its international secretariat in Berlin, Germany, has been leading the fight to end the injustice of corruption for more than 25 years Their mission is to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society.

“To fight corruption we must embrace transparency. Transparency is all about knowing who, why, what, how and how much,” said TI. It calls on all countries to:

  • strengthen oversight institutions;
  • ensure open and transparent contracting;
  • defend democracy and promote civic space;
  • publish relevant data and guarantee access.

What is Corruption?

Corruption can take many forms, and can include behaviours like:

  • public servants demanding or taking money or favours in exchange for services;
  • politicians misusing public money or granting public jobs or contracts to their sponsors, friends and families;
  • corporations bribing officials to get lucrative deals.