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January 29, 2020

Quantifying degrees of transparency perception

Business

January 29, 2020

LAHORE: Rank among the corrupt nations is irrelevant. The most important thing in this regard is its transparency score of corruption perception index evaluated on a scale of 0-10. Lower score means higher corruption; Pakistan’s score was higher in 2019.

Higher the transparency score lesser is the corruption. Transparency means rule of law that makes everyone violating rules and law accountable.

In a transparent regime one rarely dares to break rules. Corruption Perception Index simply tells state of transparency pursued by a state in a given year.

In Pakistan’s case, its transparency score in 1995 was 2.25 that meant 77.75 percent corruption was perceived in the country that year. In the same year, the transparency score of China was 2.16 which was lower than Pakistan, India’s score was 2.78.

Pakistan gained notoriety in 1996 during the tenure of second PPP government when its transparency score dropped to 1 point only. That year Pakistan was declared the second most corrupt country in the world after Nigeria. In other words, corruption in Pakistan was perceived at 99 percent.

Then in 1998, Pakistan got the high transparency score of 2.70 out of 10. That was the lowest corruption level that Pakistan has achieved until then.

Even at its best, the corruption in Pakistan was still very high at 73 percent. This level was achieved during the tenure of last PML-N government.

However, this progress was reversed the next year during the tenure of the same party as Pakistan’s transparency score dropped to 2.20 in 1999 because of atomic detonation by the then government. During the tenure of General Musharaf, the best transparency score that the country could get was in 2008 which was 2.5. In the year 2009, the transparency score dropped to 2.4.

Thereafter it gradually started rising to reach its peak of 3.3 points in 2018 meaning that the corruption in Pakistan was reduced to 67 percent. Now the score has declined to 3.2 points.

This certainly means that transparent practices are slightly slipping from the grip of the government. The rulers should take this warning of governance slippage in good spirit and do an analysis as to where they erred that caused this embarrassment.

Things can improve if flaws are addressed. But be prepared for further decline in ranking 2020 index because the way things are being handled has not changed.

China that was far behind Pakistan in 1995, but it has improved appreciably with a score of 41 or 4.1. India also slipped in score from last year, but still its score of 4.0 is much higher than Pakistan.

Pakistan scored lower in the transparency index has not surprised those who have been pointing out governance flaws in the present setup. It has hurt those who were living in a delusion about governing the country transparently.

When governance improves in a country so do the lives of the people living in it. However, if transparency declines the heat is felt more by the general public than the ruling elite.

This is the reason most of the Pakistanis have accepted the decline in Pakistan’s ranking by three places to 120 out of 180 countries in the latest corruption perception index of Transparency International.

The ruling elite remains in a state of denial and is questioning the credibility of the institution that in the past was quoted by them every time the CPI index was released.

Pakistan’s main problem is governance that cannot improve without transparency. All the countries that are performing better than Pakistan have better governance models.

Some, who have lower ranking than Pakistan, are still showing growth. That is because these countries are improving with time and their scores are improving with the passage of time too. Our economy was better two years back and is in mess now.

Instead of GDP growth going up, it is declining. Inflation is moving up and has doubled in one year. Interest rates are at a historic high. Rupee has devalued beyond reasonable limit.

Exports are stagnant. Imports have been compressed irrationally. Poverty is on the rise, and it looks like it is going to stay high for some more years.

Only improved governance through transparency and merit could bring smiles on the faces of the people of Pakistan.