Guest Post by Faith Smith: On the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index


The 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released last week rates Somalia as the World’s most corrupt country and New Zealand the least. The CPI is a project of Transparency International, a global non-profit, that analyzes business and expert surveys to measure “the perceived level of public-sector corruption in 180 countries and territories around the world.”
According to the CPI, the five most corrupt countries are Somalia, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Sudan, and Iraq. Prolonged conflict is the highest common denominator among these countries. Corruption has run amuck in the absence of legitimate governing bodies and political stability.
Somalia and Sudan have each been embroiled in civil war for decades leading to genocide in the case of Sudan and earning the title failed state for Somalia. Myanmar has been in a perpetual state of turmoil since the 1962 military coup. Rounding out the top five are Afghanistan and Iraq, two countries awash with U.S. military and money. Afghanistan has actually become more corrupt in the last year, dropping from fifth place to second, despite continued international pressure on President Karzai to crack down on corruption.
The least corrupt countries tend to be small and homogeneous with long-standing political structures. Closely following New Zealand are Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, and Switzerland. No real surprises here. While the United States doesn’t make the top five, we rank a respectable nineteen, right after the United Kingdom. The primary concern cited in the U.S. surveys was, “lack of government oversight in relation to the financial sector.” The CPI also stated that the “U.S. legislature is perceived to be the institution most affected by corruption.”
Transparency International also warns, in an accompanying press release, that rampant corruption could interfere with the global economic recovery. “At a time when massive stimulus packages, fast-track disbursements of public funds and attempts to secure peace are being implemented around the world, it is essential to identify where corruption blocks good governance and accountability, in order to break its corrosive cycle” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
— Faith Smith


One comment on “Guest Post by Faith Smith: On the 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index

  1. Imad says:

    I took a gander at the rankings and ratings of CPI 2009. I’d have to say that overall, most people wouldn’t be surprised at all. As is typical in most world rankings virtually all the developed countries sit loftily within the top 50 out of 180 countries or so. A few developing countries manage to make their ways up, which is good to see. Here are a few countries and my comments that i feel would need to be relayed:
    – IRAN – CPI: 1.8 – ranked 168th out of 180
    when you look at other rankings, like GDP per capita and HDI you get the sense that while it is a developing country, it’s still somewhat mid-tier. I always thought that corruption was a problem, but then again people in Malaysia complain of corruption, and they’re ranked 56th (tied with Namibia, Latvia, Samoa and Slovakia, talk about a motley crew).
    -VENEZUELA – CPI: 1.9 – ranked 162nd out of 180
    I was wondering what progress Chavez’s Venezuela has made, ccompared to the previous government. Well, whatever progress it did make, apparently corruption wasn’t a priority.
    – RUSSIA/UKRAINE – CPI: 2.2 – ranked 146th out of 180
    I am surprised that Russia, a power at least regionally, is ranked here, tied with the likes of Kenya and East Timor. Besides its conflict with Georgia, i doubt that it has seen that much conflict, which as Faith Smith said, could be counted as a factor for greater corruption.
    Even more surprising for me was Ukraine, which hasn’t seen that much conflict, the only major news i know of was the Yushenko (sp?) scandal.
    – INDONESIA – CPI: 2.8 – ranked 111th out of 180
    While nothing to celebrate on, i think that it’s an improvement. At the eve of Suharto’s abdication, Indonesia was definitely one of the most corrupt countries in the world, like Wost 20 ranking. It’s the main issue back in the 2009 elections campaigns this year. i know a bit more on Indonesian politics than the average man, and i’m a bit interested in seeing how far this new democracy will progress in reducing corruption in the future.
    – ARGENTINA – CPI: 2.9 – ranked 106th out of 180
    It just goes to show that wealth isn’t that much indicative of a functioning bureaucracy. One of the most developed countries in South America, i’m surprised that it’s placed so low in the CPI rankings. Brazil is placed 75th, with a CPI of 3.7. Even the less developed neighbour Peru is tied with Brazil! Chile and Uruguay are the least corrupt South American countries, tied for 25th place with a CPI of 6.7. Just what is the Kirchner gov’t doing?
    – SINGAPORE – CPI: 9.2 – ranked 3rd out of 180
    Interesting contrast with a country notorious for having a more authoritarian character to its much more liberal partner Sweden, as they both tie for 3rd place. Interesting thing to note about Singapore: it has one of the more wealthier head of state earning over $3 million, under the logic that when civil servants are paid extremely well, they’ll have less incentive to follow illegal practices.


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