Watchdog warns that graft is crippling the battle against poverty.
London: Corruption is crippling the battle against poverty and robbing oil-rich countries of their development potential, a respected global graft watchdog said on Wednesday in an annual report on sleaze.
Haiti and Bangladesh were perceived as the world’s most corrupt nations in the survey of 146 countries by Transparency International.
“This is an amazing evidence again that corruption is still rampant all over the world,” the organisation’s chairman, Peter Eigen, told a press conference in London.
“In most countries, economic policy is still perverted by corruption . . . and therefore poverty cannot be effectively addressed.”
The index by the Berlin-based watchdog looks at perceived corruption among public officials and politicians.
Just below the worst five countries were Paraguay and Azerbaijan, all seven of which scored less than two out of a best possible score of 10.
Sixty countries failed to score three out of 10, the mark corresponding to Transparency’s benchmark for “rampant corruption,” while 106, fully two-thirds of those surveyed, scored less than five.
The countries with the cleanest slate were Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Iceland and Singapore.
Eigen said developing countries in particular must root out sleaze in public works if they hoped to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
“Corruption in large-scale public projects is a daunting obstacle to sustainable development, and results in a major loss of public funds needed for education, healthcare and poverty alleviation, both in developed and developing countries,” he said in a statement.
He added that nations rich in natural resources too often undermined their own prospects with widespread graft and kickbacks among local leaders and foreign investors.
“Oil-rich Angola, Azerbaijan, Chad, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Nigeria, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen all have extremely low scores,” he said.
“In these countries, public contracting in the oil sector is plagued by revenues vanishing into the pockets of western oil executives, middlemen and local officials.”
The anti-corruption official and Jeremy Carver, head of international law at the London firm Clifford Chance, said procurement of large-scale public contracts, such as those being disbursed for Iraq’s reconstruction, were potential sources of corruption.
Reffering to the US contractor Halliburton, winner of a multibillion-dollar no-bid contract from the US government for work in Iraq, Carver said:
“This is an absolutely clear example of what happens in the post-conflict zone.”
Eigen said: “Without strict anti-bribery measures, the reconstruction of Iraq will be wrecked by a wasteful diversion of resources to corrupt elites.”
Countries seen as most corrupt:
145: Haiti, Bangladesh 1.5
144: Nigeria 1.6
142: Chad, Myanmar, 1.7
133: Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory
Coast, Georgia, Indonesia, 2
129: Cameroon, Iraq, Kenya, Pakistan, 2.1
122: Bolivia, Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan,
Niger, Sudan, Ukraine, 2.2
114: Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Honduras, Moldova, Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, 2.3
Countries seen as the cleanest:
49: Greece, Suriname, 4.3
48: Seychelles, 4.4
47: South Korea, 4.5
44: Kuwait, Lithuania,
South Africa, 4.6
42: Hungary, Italy, 4.8
39: Malaysia, Tunisia, 5.0
37: Jordan, 5.3
11: United Kingdom, 8.6
2: New Zealand, 9.6
1: Finland, 9.7
Michelle Hoffman, Business Report (South Africa), October 21, 2004