Saturday, 8 December 2012

Transparency international report should serve as a warning bell

 Economic growth and development need social stability and the rule of law, so that people and entrepreneurs feel that it is safe to invest and seize opportunities to improve their living standards and that of their families.

Corruption — in any form — takes away time and money from the most vulnerable and diverts them to the pockets of thieves and bullies who accumulate disproportionate wealth, widening the income gaps which cause social instability.

This is why the latest Transparency International annual report, which shows that two thirds of the 176 countries surveyed can be classified as “very corrupt”, should sound warning bells for those government officials and community leaders working towards a better life for all. While surveys should always be interrogated, the transparency report is based on data from independent institutions specialising in governance and business climate analysis, such as the World Bank.

At the bottom of the table are Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia, clearly showing the link between social instability, weak political governance as well as a lack of transparency and corruption. Corruption thrives where there is no public accountability, no effective legal system or strong institutions of civil society. This also helps explain why Denmark, Finland and New Zealand are ranked as the least corrupt countries on the list.

The survey recorded high levels of corruption in countries that have been affected by the Arab Spring and the Eurozone debt crisis. Hard times often force people into desperate measures, including crime. However, that cannot be an excuse.

Much can be done to combat corruption. Those who are the victims of corruption can refuse to pay bribes or when they are compelled to do so — by circumstances or intimidation — must report the crime.

Companies must refuse to pay bribes and expose those in their ranks who are willing to do so to secure tainted business. And the strongest possible action must be taken against government official and bureaucrats who try to secure bribes. They often have undue power that can be used to exploit the vulnerable, who they have a responsibility to assist and protect.



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