This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is free of corruption.
As in previous years, more than two-thirds of countries scored below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43. The data shows that despite some progress, most countries still fail to tackle corruption effectively.
Crisis of democracy
The research shows corruption not only undermines the global health response to COVID-19, but also contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy.
The report states that the economic shock of the pandemic led to protests and dissent in many countries, including South Africa (44), Angola (27) and Zimbabwe (24), over rising costs of living, corruption and the widespread misuse of emergency funds.
MENA region is perceived as highly corrupt
With an average score of 39 for the third consecutive year, the Middle East and North Africa region is still perceived as highly corrupt, with little progress made towards controlling corruption.
The United Arab Emirates and Qatar are the top regional performers on the CPI with scores of 71 and 63, respectively, while Libya (17), Yemen (15) and Syria (14) are among the worst performers.
Corruption in Iraq deprives people of basic rights
Political corruption also remains a challenge across the region, according to the research. In Iraq (21), corruption enshrined in the system deprives people of their basic rights, including access to safe drinking water, health care, uninterrupted electricity, employment opportunities and an adequate infrastructure.
The opacity in the COVID-19 response across the Eastern Europe and Central Asia region highlights the importance of checks and balances and a strong integrity system, according to the CPI 2020 report.
Corrupt and authoritarian leaders
Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the second lowest performing region on the CPI and vulnerable to corruption compounded by COVID-19, with an average score of 36. Georgia (56), Armenia (49) and Belarus (47) lead the region, while Uzbekistan (26), Tajikistan (25) and Turkmenistan (19) bring up the rear.
CPI 2020 suggests that COVID-19 provided corrupt and authoritarian leaders with an excuse to reduce oversight of government spending and curtail civil liberties and these efforts decreased transparency of foreign aid spending, making it difficult to track funds and ensure appropriate distribution to the intended recipients.
Research shows corruption undermines democratic rights and institutions, such as freedom of speech, access to information and an independent judiciary, and limits citizens’ ability to hold their governments accountable
Turkey scores below 50
Turkey also scored below 50 with 40 points and is ranked 86th among 180 countries in the global ranking. Turkey ranked 91st, with 39 points, in last year’s CPI. Turkey’s current score puts it on the same level as Trinidad and Tobago, East Timor, Morocco, India, and Burkina Faso.
Denmark and New Zealand top the list
The top countries on the CPI are Denmark and New Zealand, with scores of 88, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland, with scores of 85 each.
The bottom countries are South Sudan and Somalia, with scores of 12 each, followed by Syria (14), Yemen (15) and Venezuela (15).