posted on 25/10/2004: 607 views
In a development that is a definite pat on the back for UAE's efforts to root out corruption in higher echelons of power, the UAE has been declared the least corrupt Arab country, while Iraq bagged the dubious distinction of being the most. This was revealed in Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index 2004, launched last week, according to a report in the "City Times” section of the "Khaleej Times.”
The UAE ranked 29 on the index, way ahead of its closest competitors Bahrain, at 34 in second place and Jordan at 37 being placed third in the Arab World. The report by TI, introduced by its chairman, Peter Eigen, pointed out that corruption in large-scale public projects in the Arab World, is a daunting obstacle to sustainable development, and results in a major loss of public funds needed for education, healthcare and poverty alleviation.
"If we hope to reach the Millennium Development Goal of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015, governments need to seriously tackle corruption in public contracting," Eigen pointed out, adding the TI estimates that the amount lost due to bribery in government procurement is at least USUS$400 billion per year worldwide. A total of 106 out of 146 countries score less than five against a clean score of 10, according to the new index, published by Transparency International, the leading non-governmental organisation fighting corruption worldwide.
"Corruption robs countries of their potential,' said Eigen. "As the Corruption Perceptions Index 2004 (CPI 2004) shows, oil-rich Angola, Azerbaijan, Chad, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Nigeria, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen all have extremely low scores. In these countries, public contracting in the oil sector is plagued by revenues vanishing into the pockets of western oil executives, middlemen and local officials.' I urged western governments to oblige their oil companies to publish what they pay in fees, royalties and other payments to host governments and state oil companies.
"Access to this vital information will minimise opportunities for hiding the payment of kickbacks to secure oil tenders, a practice that has blighted the oil industry in transition and post-war economies,' Eigen averred. "The future of Iraq depends on transparency in the oil sector. The urgent need to fund post-war construction heightens the importance of stringent transparency requirements in all procurement contracts,' he continued. "Without strict anti-bribery measures, the reconstruction of Iraq will be wrecked by a wasteful diversion of resources to corrupt elites,' he commented.
The agency also recommended that across the globe, international donors and national governments must do more to ensure transparency in public procurement by introducing no-bribery clauses into all major projects. TI officials pointed out that tough sanctions were needed against companies caught bribing, including forfeit of the contract and blacklisting from future bidding. They also noted that tenders should include objective award criteria and public disclosure of the entire process.
"Companies from the OECD countries must fulfil their obligations under the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, and stop paying bribes at home and abroad, with the spread of anti-bribery legislation, corporate governance and anti-corruption compliance codes, managers have no excuse for paying bribes," a senior company official said.
The CPI is a poll of polls, reflecting the perceptions of business people and country analysts, both resident and non-resident. This year's CPI draws on 18 surveys provided to Transparency International between 2002 and 2004, conducted by 12 independent institutions. The report also contended that on the basis of data from sources that were used for both the 2003 and 2004 index, since last year an increase in perceived corruption can be observed for in the following Arab states: Bahrain, Cyprus, Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi Arabia.
On the same basis, a fall in corruption was perceived in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. The UAE had a CPI score of 6.1, and a Confidence Range of 5.1 - 7.1. The CPI score relates to the perceptions of the degree of corruption as seen by business people and country analysts, and ranges between 10 (highly clean) and 0 (highly corrupt). The Confidence Range meanwhile, reflects how the country's score may vary, depending on measurement precision.
The UAE and Jordan were the only two Arab countries this year that ranked on the scale of countries where corruption was perceived to have come down, sharing space with countries including Austria, Botswana, Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Gambia, Germany, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda and Uruguay.
According to the Index, the UAE is the less corrupt state among the Arab countries (ranked 29). The other ranks are as follows: Bahrain - 34, Jordan - 37, Qatar - 38, Tunisia - 39, Kuwait - 42, Saudi Arabia and Syria - 71, Egypt - 74, Morocco - 77, Algeria 90, Lebanon - 97, Libya and Palestinian Authority - 108, Yemen - 112, Sudan - 122 and Iraq - 129. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)
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