The Philippines continued to rate badly in the 2004 Corruption Perception Index, falling to 102nd place from 92nd last year.
In the index, released Wednesday by Transparency International, the country had a 2.6-percent corruption rating, a 0.1-percentage-point drop from last year’s 2.5 percent.
Transparency International rated 146 countries, with an index of 10.0 for the least corrupt and 1.0 for the most corrupt.
The Philippines shares the 102nd spot with Eritrea, Papua New Guinea, Uganda, Vietnam and Zambia.
The Berlin-based group placed Haiti and Bangladesh at the bottom of the list, with a 1.5-percent index. Nigeria, Myanmar and Chad had a 1.7-percent rating and Paraguay and Azerbaijan, 1.9 percent.
The top four least corrupt countries were Finland (9.7), New Zealand (9.6), Denmark (9.5), and Iceland (9.5).
Transparency International’s head, Peter Eigen, said that corruption must be rooted out by countries specifically in public works if they hope to improve the quality of life of their citizens.
“Corruption in large-scale public projects is a daunting obstacle to sustainable development, and results in a major loss of public funds needed for education, health care and poverty alleviation, in both developed and developing countries,” Eigen said in a statement.
“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,” he said, referring to a United Nations target set in 2000.
All too often, countries undermine their own prospects owing to widespread graft and kickbacks among local leaders and foreign investors in spite of rich natural resources available to them, Eigen added.
“Oil-rich Angola, Azerbaijan, Chad, Ecuador, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Libya, Nigeria, Russia, Sudan, Venezuela and Yemen all have extremely low scores,” he said, indicating high corruption.
“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.”
Eigen urged Western countries to require oil companies to open their books to show what they pay in fees, royalties and other payments to host governments and state oil companies.
He said such openness was crucial in Iraq, which stays at the 129th spot with a corruption perception index of 2.1 percent.
“Without strict antibribery measures, the reconstruction of Iraq will be wrecked by a wasteful diversion of resources to corrupt elites,” he said.
Eigen said a rise in perceived corruption had been observed in the last year in Bahrain, Belize, Cyprus, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago.
A drop in graft was seen in Austria (8.4), Botswana (6.0), the Czech Republic (6.0) and El Salvador (4.2. The rest of the countries that have made improvements are France, Gambia, Germany, Jordan, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
The survey is based on polls reflecting the perceptions of business people and analysts from inside and outside the countries. This year’s index draws on 18 surveys conducted between 2002 and 2004 by 23 independent institutions. Columbia University, Merchant International Group and World Economic Forum are some of the groups that contributed to the information for this year’s survey.
Transparency International said the index includes only those countries that feature in at least three surveys, meaning that many countries—including some which could be among the most corrupt—were missing from the list.
–by Fritz Dacpano