Bhutan steps up

Corruption Perception Index: Bhutan continues to top among the SAARC member nations as being perceived the least corrupt, going by 2012 corruption perception index that was posted on the Transparency International website yesterday. Maldives, however was the only SAARC member state not included in the index.

Among some 40 nations within the Asia-Pacific region, it stood fifth. New Zealand was top in the region and among the 176 nations that were included in the index. Among the 176 nations across the world that were measured for perceived corruption in public sector, Bhutan ranked 33rd, an indication, Anti-Corruption Commission officials said was something to be reckoned with.

It jumped five positions from 38th in 2011. In terms of score, the country secured 63 points out of 100, where on the scale from 0-100, 0 meant that a country was perceived as being highly corrupt and 100 was perceived very clean. One of ACC commissioners and spokesperson Kesang Jamtsho said the country scoring 63 points was significant, in that, for probably the first time it touched that score.

“But we can’t afford to be complacent,” he said, adding if that score dipped below five points, it would prove to be a mammoth task to pick up again. “The fight against corruption must sustain.” The country shares its 33rd position with two other nations of Portugal and Puerto Rico.

It ranked 38th in 2011 out of 183 nations world wide, a drop by two positions of 36th in 2010 among 178 countries in 2010, although the scores for both years remained same at 5.7 out of 10 on a scale from 0-10. The country, however, continued to remain cleanest in terms of perceived corruption among the SAARC nations in both years.

The drop in ranking last year with the score remaining the same as 2010, ACC officials had said was because of three new entrants in the list of nations to be measured for perceived corruption. Puerto Rico, Bahamas and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were the three new entries into the index last year.

Returning to the region and the SAARC member states within that, Sri Lanka secured the second position or 79th among 176 nations in the index, India came third (94th out of 176) and Nepal fourth (139 out of 176). Out of 100, Sri Lanka scored 40 points, India, 36 and Nepal 27.

As in the previous years, Afghanistan continues to be perceived the most corrupt in terms of public sector corruption among the SAARC member states and in the world at 174th position out of 176 nations measured. It scored eight points on the scale of 0-100. North Korea and Somalia share its position and score.

Corruption perception index report explained that it was merely an indicator of perceptions of administrative and political corruption and not a verdict on the levels of corruption of entire nations or societies, or of their policies or activities of their private sector. “Citizens of countries that score at the lower end of the index often show the same concern about and condemnation of corruption as the public in countries that perform strongly,” the report said.

To construct the index this year, 13 data sources were used like reports from Freedom House, World Bank and Transparency Bribe Payers Survey among others. Transparency International, founded in 1993, which is a global civil society organisation, leads the way towards fighting corruption.

Last year when the country had maintained its 2010 score of 5.7 points out of 10 irrespective of the fall in position by two steps, ACC chairperson Dasho Neten Zangmo deemed the score unsatisfactory. “Above six may be good,” she had said.

While that target might have been achieved, the country has yet to fulfill its bigger aspiration of making it among the top-ten list of nations in the index. “My target is to make it there after five years,” she had said last year.

Courtesy: Kuensel