KARACHI: Pakistan ra­nk­ed 120 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Per­ce­ptions Index (CPI) 2019 released by Transparency International on Thursday, slipping three spots from the previous year’s place despite increased anti-corruption efforts.

Last year, Pakistan ranked 117 out of 180 nations.

On a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean), Pakistan was assigned a score of 32 — a point lower than its score of 33 on the 2018 index and well below the global average of 43.

The CPI ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, drawing on 13 expert assessments and surveys of business executives.

Many developed countries including Canada, Fra­nce, the United Kingdom and Denmark have scored less than last year, though Denmark attained the first rank on CPI 2019.

Transparency International wants check on big money playing a role in financing of political parties

In the index, the average score for Asia-Pacific is 45 out of 100, showing Afghan­is­tan as ‘highly corrupt’ with a score of 16. New Zea­land was on top of the ranking in the region with a score of 87 followed by Singapore which ranked fourth with a score of 85.

“The lack of real progress against corruption in most countries is disappointing and has profound negative effects on citizens around the world,” said Patricia Moreira, managing director of Trans­parency Interna­tional. “To have any chance of ending corruption and improving peoples’ lives, we must tackle the relationship between politics and big money. All citizens must be represented in decision making.”

Countries in which elections and political party financing are open to undue influence from vested interests were less able to combat corruption, an analysis of the results found.

“Frustration with government corruption and lack of trust in institutions speaks of a need for greater political integrity,” said TI chair Delia Ferreira Rubio. “Gov­ernments must urgently address the corrupting role of big money in political party financing and the undue influence it exerts on our political systems.”

More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of only 43. Since 2012, only 22 countries have significantly improved their scores including Estonia, Greece and Guyana. Twenty-one have significantly declined including Australia, Canada and Nicaragua.

Transparency Interna­tional research showed that several of the most adva­nced economies could not afford to be complacent if they were to keep up their anti-corruption momentum. Four G7 countries scored lower than last year: Canada (-4), France (-3), the UK (-3) and the US (-2). Germany and Japan had seen no improvement, while Italy gained one point.

To reduce corruption and restore trust in politics, Transparency Interna­tional called on governments to control political financing to prevent excessive money and influence in politics in addition to tackling preferential treatment to ensure budgets and public services are not driven by personal connects or bias towards special interests.

Governments should also manage conflicts of interest and address “revolving doors”; regulate lobbying activities by promoting open and meaningful access to decision-making and strengthen electoral integrity; and prevent and sanction misinformation campaigns.

They should empower citizens, protect activists, whistleblowers and journalists, reinforce checks and balances, and promote separation of powers, the watchdog said.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020