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January 24, 2020

TI issues report: Corruption sets record in 2019

Top Story

January 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Corruption in Pakistan increased in 2019 as against 2018, Transparency International’s global report on 2019 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) released here on Thursday revealed.

Scoring 32 on the CPI in 2019, Pakistan not only fell one point below the 2018 score of 33 but also dropped three stages in the world ranking from the previous 117th to the latest 120th among 180 countries. It means that Pakistan, which was previously 63rd most corrupt country, is now 60th most corrupt nation.

What is however really alarming is the fact that the fall in the 2019 CPI score as against the previous year is the first ever since 2010. Pakistan has been consistently improving its position against corruption for the last 10 years but 2019 -- the first complete year of Imran Khan government -- proved to be disappointment for being more corrupt than before.

The CPI 2019 comprises 13 survey sources, out of which eight survey sources were counted for the assessment of Pakistan. Sources said that five sources out of these eight sources (used for CPI 2019 for Pakistan) gave negative scores to Pakistan. Those who assessed Pakistan negatively as against 2018 include World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey 2019; World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Expert Survey 2019; Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) 2019; Bertelsmann Foundation’s Transformation Index and Global Insight Country Risk Ratings.

Questions asked by surveys of these five sources pertain to the corruption by government officials, judiciary, military, politicians, and whether or not they were prosecuted according to law. According to sources, the negative scoring for Pakistan in these five survey sources indicates the lack of business investment, absence of rule of law, perceived impression that judicial actions are discriminatory between haves and have nots and ignores issues of conflict of interest.

The following are the five international entities, which found Pakistan negative in 2019, and the questions they ask:

1. World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey 2019

Question: “In your country, how common is it for firms to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with the following:

a. Imports and exports

b. Public utilities

c. Annual tax payments

d. Awarding of public contracts and licences

e. Obtaining favourable judicial decisions

2. World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Expert Survey 2019

Question: Government officials in the executive branch do not use public office for private gain.

Government officials in the judicial branch do not use public office for private gain.

Government officials in the police and the military do not use public office for private gain.

Government officials in the legislature do not use public office for private gain.

3. Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) 2019 Negative Score

Question: How pervasive is political corruption?

4. Bertelsmann Foundation’s Transformation Index Negative Score

Question 1: To what extent are public officeholders who abuse their positions prosecuted or penalised?

Question 2: To what extent does the government successfully contain corruption?

5. Global Insight Country Risk Ratings

Question: The risk that individuals/companies will face bribery or other corrupt practices to carry out business, from securing major contracts to being allowed to import/export a small product or obtain everyday paperwork. This threatens a company's ability to operate in a country, or opens it up to legal or regulatory penalties and reputational damage.

In a press release, the Transparency International Pakistan (TIP) Chairman Sohail Muzaffar said that on clarification sought against the lowering of Pakistan’s score by 1 point on CPI 2019 in spite of increased anti-corruption efforts, the TI Secretariat explained that in CPI 2019 many countries have not performed well this year. Pakistan’s score is reduced by 1 point to 32 points out of 100, but in CcPI 2019 many developed countries have also scored less, including Canada by 4 (81 to 77), France by 3 (72 to 69), UK by 3 (80 to 77) and Denmark by 1 (88 to 87), though Denmark has attained first rank on CPI 2019. India also slipped two places to 80th position, while the US saw its lowest perceived corruption index score since 2012, and ended up at 69th position by losing two points.

The TIP chairman said the NAB under the current leadership of Justice (R) Javed Iqbal has performed much better, and NAB has been revived after it has taken various initiatives including combined investigation team (CIT) system in order to have collective wisdom in the conduct of inquiries/investigations on merits which is lending quality. The NAB has collected Rs153 billion from the corrupt elements and filed 530 references and its overall conviction ratio in the accountability courts is about 70 percent. Besides, the NAB’s effective media campaign to aware people about ill effects of corruption are commendable.

Interestingly, the TI Berlin report does not contain any praises for NAB or its chairman. It is not explained why did the TIP chairman thought it appropriate to appreciate the NAB and its chairman despite the fact that Pakistan this year fell below the previous year for the first time in last 10 years.

It is also intriguing that while ignoring the examples like Malaysia that gained remarkably in 2019 CPI, the TI Pakistan chapter in its press release tried to justify Pakistan’s fall by one point in CPI index by referring to certain other countries who lost their positions as well.

News Desk adds: According to Geo News, Transparency International said it is imperative to prevent corruption in order to foster the integrity of political systems around the world. This will restore trust, and lead to a decrease in the perceived levels of corruption prevalent in several countries, the group said. In line with the statement, the group also identified several key areas that governments around the globe could concentrate on reforming and thus decreasing corruption in their societies. The recommendations were part of the report the group released on Thursday. TI said that by managing conflicts of interest, controlling political financing, strengthening electoral integrity, regulating lobbying activities, tackling preferential treatment, empowering citizens, and reinforcing checks and balances, states could fight corruption and defeat it.