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Myanmar, Somalia bottom of Transparency corruption index

By dpa news     Sep 26, 2007 in Politics
Military-ruled Myanmar, in the grip of civil unrest, is jointly ranked with Somalia at the bottom of the annual corruption perceptions index released by global watchdog Transparency International on Wednesday.
Two Nordic countries and New Zealand top the 180-nation list ranking the cleanest states and the worst countries for bribery and graft in the public sector.
The 2007 report lists countries on a scale from zero (highly corrupt) to 10 (highly clean) based on a composite index from surveys compiled by experts and business sources over the past two years.
Jointly sharing the number one spot on the clean list this year are Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, which each score 9.4. They are followed by Singapore, Sweden, Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
Worst ranked for corruption are Myanmar and Somalia with just 1.4. Next comes Iraq on 1.5 and Haiti, which was bottom of last year's list, on 1.6. Above them on 1.7 are Uzbekistan and Tonga.
"Despite some gains, corruption remains an enormous drain on resources sorely needed for education, health and infrastructure," Transparency International chairwoman Huguette Labelle said.
The index reveals a strong correlation between poverty and corruption. Forty per cent of those with a score below 3, indicating that corruption is perceived as rampant, are classified by the World Bank as low income countries.
The index shows Africa is producing good results in the fight against corruption. Countries including Namibia, Seychelles and Swaziland scored significantly higher than a year ago.
Botswana is the cleanest ranked African state in 38th place, followed by South Africa on 43. Uganda is the worst-ranked on 111th.
Other countries with a significant improvement include Costa Rica, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominica, Italy, Macedonia, Romania and Suriname.
Countries with a significant worsening in perceived levels of corruption in 2007 include Austria, Bahrain, Belize, Jordan, Laos, Macao, Malta, Mauritius, Oman, Papua New Guinea and Thailand.
Among the major powers, Britain was ranked 12th, Germany 16th, Japan 17th, France 19th, the United States 20th, while China, Brazil and India were tied at 72nd place and Russia was 143rd.
The survey noted "a concentration of gainers in South-East and Eastern Europe," which it said "testifies to the galvanizing effect of the European Union accession process on the fight against corruption."
At the same time, "deeply troubled states" such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Myanmar, Somalia and Sudan remained at the very bottom of the index.
"Countries torn apart by conflict pay a huge toll in their capacity to govern. With public institutions crippled or non- existent, mercenary individuals help themselves to public resources and corruption thrives," Labelle said.
Calling for "urgent steps" by governments to combat corruption, the Berlin-based organization urged the introduction of anti-money laundering measures to eradicate safe havens for stolen assets.
It also said the boards of multinational companies "must not only introduce but implement effective anti-bribery codes, and ensure that they are adhered to by subsidiaries and foreign offices."
Transparency International's corruption perceptions index focuses on the public sector and defines corruption as "the abuse of public office for private gain."
Among the index's sources are surveys by the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the African Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank. dpa ms wjh