Features — 20 January 2018 — by -contributed-
Belize a no-show in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index

Belize does not appear in the Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index 2016. The last time Belize was rated by this organization was in 2008.

At least as far back as 2011, Belize’s Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) has been calling on the Belize government to release information so that Transparency International can include us in their report again. On December 14, 2011, then VIP Chairman, Bobby Lopez, told News 5, “VIP therefore calls on this administration to clean up corruption and to immediately sign the United Nations’ Anti-Corruption Convention. You’ve had four years to do it. We also call on this administration to disclose all the information necessary for Transparency International to rank Belize for us; regardless of where they put us, we need to be ranked so we can begin the journey up to number one like our fellows across the Caribbean, Barbados.”

According to Wikipedia, Transparency International (TI) is a nonprofit organization based in Berlin which fights corruption and prevents criminal activities arising from corruption. TI publishes the Corruption Perceptions, Index which ranks countries according to their level of corruption.

The website www.transparency.org says that the organization has “published the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) since 1996, annually ranking countries ‘by their perceived levels of corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys.’”

TI’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 states that “over two-thirds of the 176 countries and territories in this year’s index fall below the midpoint of our scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). The global average score is a paltry 43, indicating endemic corruption in a country’s public sector.” The report notes that, “more countries declined than improved in this year’s results, showing the urgent need for committed action to thwart corruption.”

TI describes the lower-ranked countries in the corruption perceptions index as being “plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary,” while the higher-ranked countries, they say, “tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems.”

The organization wasn’t very optimistic about the performances of countries in the Americas, those ones south of the Rio Grande.  The 2016 Corruption Perceptions Index  gives the Americas an average score of 44 out of 100, when anything below 50 means a failure to deal with corruption.

“Impunity continues to be a major problem”, in many countries in the Americas, TI says.  The organization warns that “in countries where cases of large-scale corruption are being tackled, the risk remains that this is the result of the efforts of a small group of brave individuals rather than a long-term plan.”

There are some countries in our region that performed admirably, especially in the Caribbean. The Bahamas was ranked 24th best in the world, with a score of 66, Barbados was 31st best, with a score of 61, and St. Lucia was 35th best, with a score of 60. Another notable score in the Caribbean was achieved by Dominica, which ranked 38th best, with a score of 59.

Costa Rica was the only country in Central America to achieve an admirable score. She ranked 41st best, with a score of 58. All the others in Central America performed poorly, with Nicaragua in the rear in our region, 145th in the report, with a score of 26.  Guatemala performed poorly, coming in 136th, with a score of 28, and Honduras was almost as bad, 123rd, with a score of 30.

Haiti was the worst performer in the Caribbean, coming in 159th, with a score of 20. The Dominican Republic turned in a score of 31, which placed them 120th in the 176 countries surveyed, and Guyana, with their score of 34, came in 108th.

Theglobaleconomy.com says that data from Transparency International on Belize from 2003 to 2008, shows Belize averaging 36 points with a minimum of 29 points in 2008 (106th place in 165 countries) and a maximum of 45 points in 2003 (45th place in 126 countries). (In the Corruption Perceptions Index, 100 is equal to zero corruption.)

Recently, freedomhouse.org said that Belize was the only country in Central America that was not a party to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC). However, Belize signed that treaty on Friday, December 9th, 2017, becoming the 184th country to sign this convention. The Government of Belize signed on to UNCAC after intense discussions with the Belize National Teachers Union, which insisted that we become a member.

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Deshawn Swasey

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