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      The most talked about issue

      The most talked about issue

      In Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2012 – an indicator of perception of public sector corruption – Denmark, Finland and New Zealand came out on top. The very bottom of the rankings were no surprise either, with Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia closing the list. Luxembourg ranks 12th, which means it is doing better than neighbouring countries France, Belgium and Germany.

      “Corruption is the world’s most talked about problem”, says Cobus de Swaedt, Managing Director of Transparency International (TI), a global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. Two thirds of the 176 countries ranked in the index score below 50 on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The NGO concludes that public institutions need to be more transparent and powerful officials more accountable.

      The top three countries – Denmark, Finland and New Zealand – tie for first place with a score of 90  each, helped by strong systems of access to information and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions. Underperformers in the index include the Eurozone countries most affected by the financial crisis. It is hardly a surprise that Greece is now ranked as the EU’s worst in the battle against corruption (94th).

      Other members of the European Union in a marginally better position than Greece are Romania (66th), Italy (72nd) and Bulgaria (75th). A Transparency International analyst told the news agency Reuters that the results of the survey should be a warning signal for the EU to require more information and accountability from its member states. Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Croatia, however, have made great strides; all four have improved significantly compared to 2011’s index.

      Russia, meanwhile, has moved up the ranking by ten slots and is now in 133th place. Elsewhere in the world, the US rose to 19th place (24th in 2011) and the UK is in 17th. China, predicted to be the world’s largest economy by 2020, fell five positions to 80th.

      For clarification: the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an indicator of perception of public sector – both administrative and political – corruption. This means that the index is not a verdict on the actual levels of corruption of entire nations. Also, if a country or territory is not included in the ranking, this is solely because of insufficient survey information and not an indication that corruption does not exist in the country or territory. CW