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As the year before, the 1996 CPI caused a lot of press reaction. We here listed only some for you.

Putting it black on white - How the TI Corruption Perception Index 1996 got things moving around the world

Berlin, 31 July 1997

The CPI has had a salutary impact on national politics in many countries and is increasingly shaping public opinion. "We know that publication of the CPI has contributed to raising public awareness of the cancer of corruption," Eigen noted. "While some governments rejected the implicit criticism out of hand, others have acted on it, initiating reforms to strengthen their integrity systems," says the TI Chairman, citing Malaysia as a positive example. "More governments should start to react to the perceived level of corruption in their countries," he said.

Dr Eigen called the CPI "a measure of lost development opportunities as an empirical link has now been established between the level of corruption and foreign direct investment." A recent study based on the CPI at Harvard University has shown that a rise in corruption levels from that of Singapore to that of Mexico is equivalent to raising the marginal tax rate by over twenty per cent. A one percentage point increase in the marginal tax rate reduces inward foreign direct investment by about five per cent. "Every day the poor scores in the CPI are not being dealt with, means more impoverishment, less education, less health care," stated Eigen.

Yet, the index also had a significant political impact nationally in a number of countries and was discussed in parliaments around the world as it helped people to focus on the less-than-excellent state of cleanliness of their countries.

How national governments reacted to the Corruption Perception Index

Bhutto: "The most honest administration in Pakistan's history ..."

The impact of the index was perhaps greatest in Pakistan. The anger of people in Pakistan over their government's participation in rampant corruption was catalysed by Pakistan's position as second-worst in the world table. Suddenly, this anger became focussed, accompanied by the bitter feeling that Pakistan had "deserved better" from their political elite. The reaction to the index in Pakistan was remarkable: Embassy and opposition party representatives visited TI in Berlin to ask for clarification. Many Pakistanis contacted TI which promoted the creation of a network in Pakistan and made TI a household name (as the extensive media coverage and the 300 leading citizens who crowded out a TI-Pakistan seminar in Karachi showed). Many speakers at this conference stated that the index had contributed to the downfall of the notoriously corrupt Bhutto administration. It was the former Prime Minister after all, who had erupted angrily when the index was referred to in parliament claiming that her's was "the most honest administration in Pakistan's history". Only days later she was dismissed from office by the President who was reportedly influenced in his decision to act by Ms Bhutto's wholly irrational response to the index. Ms Bhutto lost the ensuing elections in a landslide. The new National Chapter is targetting public procurement and working independently with the new government to reduce levels of corruption which have plagued Pakistan's development for two generations.

On September 12, p. 9, the International Herald Tribune reports the following joke in a brilliant story about the Corruption Index: "In Pakistan, the Corruption is Lethal"

The Pakistani driver, who would eventually become my close friend...turned to me with a question. 'You know,' asked Ahmad, swerving around a crater that could have swallowed his little taxi, 'how Pakistan was No. 2 in the world in corruption?' I said I'd heard something about it. Pakistan had been ranked second only to Nigeria in a 1996 "global corruption index" by an outfit called Transparency International. 'Actually,' Ahmad went on, 'we were No. 1. But we bribed the Nigerians to take the first place.' I laughed out loud even as my stomach lurched from potholes and a noxious cloud of road dust and diesel fumes seeping through the windows.

Malaysia: Index as focal point for national campaign

In Malaysia, the government initially reacted strongly. Prime Minister Mahatir called the index another example of Western "cultural imperialism". He added it was now time to set up watchdog agencies to monitor the West and their export of corruption. However, a serious effort to understand the methodology of the index was made. A delegation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) was sent to Berlin where the mechanics and methodology of the index were explained to them by TI. The government then started an anti-corruption campaign - continually pointing to the TI index in its public statements and parliamentary debates as the reason why all Malaysians needed to be mobilised to counter corruption. Prime Minister Mahathir saw corruption as threatening Malaysia joining the ranks of the most industrialised nations by the year 2020. The government bolstered both the powers and the budget of the Anti-Corruption Agency. The net outcome: The index is forming the focal point for an official national awareness-raising programme, and is often referred to in the speeches of the Deputy Prime Minister. And TI is a "name" now in Malaysia and present in the media - an excellent precondition for the future work of the nascent National Chapter of TI in the country. Initially viewed with suspicion, TI-Malaysia is now seen as an independent partner in the push to enhance the country's integrity.

Argentina: New anti-corruption push in the provinces

In Argentina, the index was top news for weeks. The public debate even led to a dispute between the government and Poder Ciudadano, the National Chapter of TI in Argentina. According to Argentine press reports, Minister of the Interior Carlos Corach said the TI Corruption Perception Index "conveys a lie, is unjust and absurd". He added that the information was all the more irresponsible as President Carlos Menem had mounted "the most formidable campaign to eradicate structural corruption". Hence, it was unjust and arbitrary to speak of Argentina "in such terms". The President himself insinuated that TI and its members were unqualified. Poder Ciudadano presented a host of sources supporting the findings of the CPI when Luis Moreno Ocampo, its chairman, was called by the Chief Minister of Cabinet, Mr. Jorge Rodríguez, for explanations. Later on, Mr. Rodriguez and other members of government met with Luis Moreno Ocampo, Roberto de Michele and other members of TI Argentina to express the feeling of the government and the President regarding the publication of the index. One of their comments was that the index did not reflect the efforts of the government to control corruption. While on the federal level the problem of corruption goes unabated - despite the government's claims to the contrary -, on the provincial level there is now much real dedication in the fight against corruption. The province of Mendoza is a case in point, where Poder Ciudadano is working to include "Integrity Pacts" in all government procurement.