Transparency International (TI) has just released its annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) at a ceremony in Berlin. This Office is pleased to announce that, for the 14th year in a row, Botswana was ranked as being the least corrupt country in Africa, as well as among the least corrupt countries in the world.
Botswana was ranked 37 out of 180 countries included in the 2009 survey, with a composite score of 5.6, showing little change from the results over the past five years, which have oscillated between 5.4 and 5.9.
Botswana's standing once more placed it in the top 20% of all surveyed nations, as well as above over half (24) of the member states of the Council of Europe and nine OECD members.
Like last year, Botswana was one of only three countries in Africa to score above five, being followed by Mauritius (5.4) and Cape Verde (5.1). Of the 47 African countries included in the 2009 survey 31 scored below 3, which according to a TI is indicative of continued rampant perceived corruption on the continent.
TI is the leading international non-governmental organisation devoted to fighting corruption worldwide. Its annual CPI index reflects the perceptions of business people, academics and risk analysts, both resident and non-resident. It is, moreover, a composite index, drawing on a range of additional expert and business surveys.
Botswana's relative success in the annual survey over the years has been attributed to the country having put into place multiple safeguards, including the establishment of such institutions as the Directorates on Corruption and Economic Crime (DCEC), Public Prosecutions (DPP), and Intelligence Services (DIS), the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), and the Ombudsman, as well as its constitutionally entrenched provisions for independent oversight by the Auditor General, Parliament and the Judiciary.
In the 2009 report, TI further notes that it is clear that no region of the world is immune to the debilitating effects of corruption. According to the organisation's Chairperson Huguette Labelle:
"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."
Fragile, unstable states that are scarred by war and ongoing conflict linger at the bottom of the index. These include: Somalia, with a score of 1.1, Afghanistan at 1.3, Myanmar at 1.4 and Sudan tied with Iraq at 1.5.
According to Labelle "stemming corruption requires strong oversight by parliaments, a well performing judiciary, independent and properly resourced audit and anti-corruption agencies, vigorous law enforcement, transparency in public budgets, revenue and aid flows, as well as space for independent media and a vibrant civil society,...The international community must find efficient ways to help war-torn countries to develop and sustain their own institutions."
The highest scorers in the 2009 index are New Zealand at 9.4, Denmark at 9.3, Singapore and Sweden tied at 9.2 and Switzerland at 9.0.
While industrialised countries tended to do better in the index, this year's TI report noted that the supply of bribery and the facilitation of corruption often involve businesses based in such countries and that financial secrecy jurisdictions, linked to many countries that top the CPI, severely undermine efforts to tackle corruption and recover stolen assets. "Corrupt money must not find safe haven. It is time to put an end to excuses," said Labelle. "The OECD's work in this area is welcome, but there must be more bilateral treaties on information exchange to fully end the secrecy regime. At the same time, companies must cease operating in renegade financial centres." Bribery, cartels and other corrupt practices undermine competition and contribute to massive loss of resources for development in all countries, especially the poorest ones.
Between 1990 and 2005, more than 283 private international cartels were exposed that cost consumers around the world an estimated US $300 billion in overcharges, as documented in a recent TI report.