Transparency International Chief Underscores Imperative of Good Governance for Development and Poverty Reduction

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Transparency International Chief Underscores Imperative of Good Governance for Development and Poverty Reduction

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Tunis, 23 September 2008 –Transparency International’s Advisory Committee Chair, Peter Eigen, rounded off a two-day visit to the AfDB on Tuesday in Tunis with a press conference where he launched TI’s 2008 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in which Denmark emerged as the country with the highest positive perception on good governance while Somalia bore the trail as the most corrupt of the 180-country index.

Mr Eigen said the Report underscores the nexus between poverty, failed institutions and graft, adding that other notable backsliders in the 2008 CPI indicate that the strength of oversight mechanisms is also at risk among the wealthiest." A lot of responsibility to corruption lies in the North," he emphasized.

"In the poorest countries, corruption levels can mean the difference between life and death, when money for hospitals or clean water is in play," Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International said.

"Continuing high levels of corruption and poverty plaguing many of the world’s societies amount to an ongoing humanitarian disaster and cannot be tolerated. But even in more privileged countries, with enforcement disturbingly uneven, a tougher approach to tackling corruption is needed,"  she added.

The CPI measures the perceived levels of public-sector corruption in a given country and is a composite index, drawing on different expert and business surveys. The 2008 CPI scores 180 countries (the same number as the 2007 CPI) on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to ten (highly clean).

Denmark, New Zealand and Sweden share the highest score at 9.3, followed immediately by Singapore at 9.2. Bringing up the rear is Somalia at 1.0, slightly trailing Iraq and Myanmar at 1.3 and Haiti at 1.4.

While score changes in the Index are not rapid, statistically significant changes are evident in certain countries from the high to the low end of the CPI. Looking at source surveys included in both the 2007 and 2008 Index, significant declines can be seen in scores for Bulgaria, Burundi, Maldives, Norway and the United Kingdom.

Similarly, statistically significant improvements over the last year can be identified in Albania, Cyprus, Georgia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, South Korea, Tonga and Turkey.

Whether in high or low-income countries, the challenge of reigning in corruption requires functioning societal and governmental institutions. Poorer countries are often plagued by corrupt judiciaries and ineffective parliamentary oversight. Wealthy countries, on the other hand, show evidence of insufficient regulation of the private sector, in terms of addressing overseas bribery by their countries, and weak oversight of financial institutions and transactions.

In low-income countries, rampant corruption jeopardizes the global fight against poverty, threatening to derail the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). According to TI’s 2008 Global Corruption Report, unchecked levels of corruption would add US $50 billion (€35 billion) - or nearly half of annual global aid outlays – to the cost of achieving the MDG on water and sanitation.

Mr. Eigen, who also chairs the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) Board, visited the Bank at the invitation of the Governance Department and the Chief Economist’s office.

He commended the AfDB’s strong support to EITI noting that his meetings with the Board of executive directors, senior management and staff of the Bank were very fruitful and would go a long way in strengthening the excellent relations between the two institutions.

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Felix Njoku Phone: +216 7110 26 12