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Nine out of ten developing countries urgently need practical support to fight corruption, highlights new index

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index 2003 charts levels of corruption in 133 countries. Seven out of ten countries score less than 5 out of a clean score of 10, while five out of ten developing countries score less than 3 out of 10

London, 7 October 2003

"Rich countries must provide practical support to developing country governments that demonstrate the political will to curb corruption. In addition, those countries starting with a high degree of corruption should not be penalised, since they are in the most urgent need of support," said Peter Eigen, Chairman of Transparency International (TI), speaking today on the launch of the TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2003 (CPI).

"The new CPI points to high levels of corruption in many rich countries as well as poorer ones, making it imperative that developed countries enforce international conventions to curb bribery by international companies, and that private businesses fulfil their obligations under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, namely to stop bribing public officials around the world," said Eigen. But, he continued, "nine out of ten developing countries score less than 5 against a clean score of 10 in the TI CPI 2003. Their governments must implement results-oriented programmes to fight corruption, but they also urgently require practical help tailored to the needs of their national anti-corruption strategies."

For these strategies to succeed, said Eigen, "such support must go hand in hand with international backing for civil society to monitor the implementation of these strategies". In addition, he insisted, "donor countries and international financial institutions should take a firmer line, stopping financial support to corrupt governments and blacklisting international companies caught paying bribes abroad."

"Seven out of ten countries score less than 5 out of a clean score of 10 in the TI CPI 2003, which reflects perceived levels of corruption among politicians and public officials in 133 countries," explained Eigen. "Five out of ten developing countries score less than 3 out of 10, indicating a high level of corruption." The annual CPI, published today by TI, the leading international non-governmental organisation devoted to fighting corruption worldwide, reflects the perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident and non-resident. The statistical work was co-ordinated by Prof. Dr Johann Graf Lambsdorff at Passau University in Germany, advised by a group of international specialists.

Corruption is perceived to be pervasive in Bangladesh, Nigeria, Haiti, Paraguay, Myanmar, Tajikistan, Georgia, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Angola, Kenya, and Indonesia, countries with a score of less than 2 in the new index. Countries with a score of higher than 9, with very low levels of perceived corruption, are rich countries, namely Finland, Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Singapore and Sweden.

Some changes highlighted in the CPI were identified by Peter Eigen. "On the basis of data from sources that have been consistently used for the index, improvements since last year's index can be observed for Austria, Belgium, Colombia, France, Germany, Ireland, Malaysia, Norway, and Tunisia. Noteworthy examples of a worsening are Argentina, Belarus, Chile, Canada, Israel, Luxembourg, Poland, USA, and Zimbabwe." "There are many countries, where there is now a high-level political commitment to fight corruption," said TI Vice Chair Rosa Ins Ospina Robledo, speaking in Bogota, Colombia, today. "In such countries, international support, especially for transparency in public contracting, is essential to build solid foundations for removing corruption from government and public services. In particular, the private sector must take full responsibility for its conduct at home and abroad, and take urgent steps to stop paying bribes. To make this a reality, TI and private sector companies have worked together to develop a set of Business Principles for Countering Bribery, advocating anti-bribery training and codes of conduct within companies. TI has also implemented no-bribes Integrity Pacts in public contracting."

"We can begin to close the rift between developing and rich countries, which was so evident at the WTO meeting in Cancn, Mexico, last month," said Peter Eigen, "if WTO negotiations are launched on a multilateral framework agreement on Transparency in Government Procurement (TGP). For less developed countries, it is in their own interests to introduce transparency measures in public procurement because the waste of their own scarce resources is at stake. If corruption in procurement is not contained, poverty will grow."

"Today's CPI demonstrates that it is not only poor countries where corruption thrives," said Laurence Cockcroft, Chairman of TI (UK), in London today. "Levels of corruption are worryingly high in European countries such as Greece and Italy, and in potentially wealthy oil-rich countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Libya, Venezuela and Iraq."

"To turn around this situation so that ordinary people share in the oil wealth of their country, TI is campaigning, along with other NGOs, for international oil companies to publish what they pay to governments and state oil companies. This will enable citizens and civil society organisations in countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Iraq, Indonesia and Kazakhstan to have a clearer picture of state revenues," said Cockcroft, a member of TI's international Board of Directors, "so that they can call their governments to account where the state budget is not used to improve scarce public resources, but instead disappears on expensive vanity projects or into the secret offshore bank accounts of politicians and public officials."

"Political parties, the courts and the police were identified as the three areas most in need of reform in TI's Global Corruption Barometer, a survey of the general public in 48 countries, launched in July 2003," said Cockcroft. "This indicates a serious lack of confidence in those in authority worldwide."

The CPI 2003, published today, is a poll of polls, reflecting the perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident and non-resident. First launched in 1995, this year's CPI draws on 17 surveys from 13 independent institutions. A rolling survey of polls provided to TI between 2001 and 2003, the CPI 2003 includes only those countries that feature in at least three surveys. "It is important to emphasise that the CPI, even with 133 countries, is only a snapshot," said Peter Eigen. "There is not sufficient data on other countries, many of which are likely to be very corrupt."

The CPI 2003 complements TI's Bribe Payers Index (BPI), which addresses the propensity of companies from top exporting countries to bribe in emerging markets. The BPI 2002, published on 14 May 2002, revealed high levels of bribery by firms from Russia, China, Taiwan and South Korea, closely followed by Italy, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Japan, USA and France - although many of these countries signed the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which outlaws bribery of foreign public officials.

"The OECD Convention came into force in 1999, but we are still awaiting the first prosecutions in the courts of the 35 signatory countries," said Eigen. "The governments of these countries have an obligation to developing countries to investigate and prosecute the companies within their jurisdictions that are bribing. Their bribes and incentives to corrupt public officials and politicians are undermining the prospects of sustainable development in poorer countries."

Press Contacts for the CPI 2003
Jana Kotalik/Sarah Tyler
Tel:+49 30 3438 2061/19
Jeff Lovitt/Susan Ct-Freeman
Tel:+44-207 981 0345
Additional general and technical CPI information
Prof. Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff (TI Adviser and director of the statistical work on the CPI), Passau University, Germany
Tel:+49-851-509 2551