International watchdog agency, Transparency International (TI), has released this year’s Corruption Perception Index, which rates 179 countries across the world on a scale of 0 to 10 – 0 being the most corrupt and 10 being the least. Within a year, Belize has slipped from a rating of 3.5 to 3.0, and from #66 to #99 among the rated countries.
The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranks countries in terms of the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among public officials and politicians, the agency said. It added that the composite index (a poll of polls) draws on corruption-related data from expert and business surveys by independent and reputable institutions, and reflects views from around the world, including those of experts who are living in the countries evaluated.
While countries such as Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominica, Italy, FYR Macedonia, Romania and Suriname were noted for their improvements in the CPI this year, Belize was listed along with Austria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Jordan, Laos, Macao, Malta, Mauritius, Oman, Papua New Guinea and Thailand as “countries with a significant worsening in perceived levels of corruption in 2007.”
In the region of the Americas, Belize ranks 21 among 32 countries, tied with the Dominican Republic and ranked ahead of only Argentina, Bolivia, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua, Honduras, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Haiti. Canada ranks first in the region, while the US ranks second. Barbados was highest among CARICOM countries with a rating of 6.9.
“The top scores of wealthy countries and territories, largely in Europe, East Asia and North America, reflect their relatively clean public sectors, enabled by political stability, well-established conflict of interest and freedom of information regulations and a civil society free to exercise oversight,” TI’s report said.
It noted, however, that corruption in poor countries has an international dimension and bribe money often stems from multinationals based in the world’s richest countries and is often tied to international trade ventures.
“In the Americas, the anti-corruption fight remains far from being victorious. A third of the countries scored below three, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant. Slightly more than two-fifths scored between 3 and 5 indicating that the levels of corruption among public officials and politicians are perceived to be serious by country experts and business people,” said TI’s report issued on Wednesday.
In 2003, Belize’s index was 4.5, and it has regressed over the years, to 3.8 in 2004, 3.7 in 2005, 3.5 in 2006 and now 3.0 in 2007.