What did the others say? Observations on the CPI in the media

The 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index has been launched. As every year, and maybe more than ever, it stirred a lot of needed debate and attention to the issue of corruption around the world. The attention the index received this year showed that the greed and lack of transparency that were at the heart of the financial crisis has affected the trust of the citizens in business, their governments and their public administration.

Here are a couple of observations and comments mentioned in the coverage of the CPI that I found very valuable and would like to share with you:

After the flawed outcome of the negotiations for an effective review mechanism of the only global legal anti-corruption framework, the UN Convention against Corruption, the Financial Times noted:

“The three big emerging markets – which are all criticised for their failure to give stronger backing to global anti-corruption rules – have all finished below 75th place in annual rankings of 180 countries by the campaigning group Transparency International. The results are likely to add to worries that the lack of tough rules against bribery will lead to damaging free-for-alls between states and multinationals competing for official contracts and resources in Africa and other parts of the world.”

In general, however, the focus of much coverage (such as the BBC) was on the high levels of perceived corruption in war-torn nations, and especially on Afghanistan (Reuters) with a look towards the challenges of President Karzai’s second term.

A good background to understanding the challenging situation in Afghanistan and the link of poverty and corruption is based on a new report by Oxfam The Cost of War. Ian Timberlake of the Agence France-Presse writes that according to the surveyed opinions of more than 700 Afghan men and women:

“Seventy percent of those surveyed named unemployment and poverty as major driving factors for the war, and 48 percent identified the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Afghan government as a major cause.”

The report says

“the Afghan government must demonstrate a stronger commitment to addressing corruption, increasing transparency and improving the rule of law.”

For a good analysis on how to tackle the “corruption curse” in African countries take a look at Mark John on Reuters Blog. He writes:

“But amid the gloom are some interesting developments compared to last year’s table, suggesting the right mix of anti-corruption policy – plus a dose of rosy public relations – can help individual countries shake off the kind of reputation that scares investors off.”

Finally, I liked the feature on the Huffington Post asking to rate the most surprising rating of the CPI. In a way, the comments and ratings show people’s perceptions of the perceptions of the country experts and businessmen surveyed by the polls included in the CPI.

And while we have found that they usually agree, individual experiences and incidences of corruption may very much vary. The needed complement is given by Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer, which asks people in more than 60 countries around the world about their experiences.

More news coverage can be found here.

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