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Pakistan moves up on world corruption chart

KARACHI: The country may not be performing well in several fields but it has moved up the corruption ladder, from the 42nd rung in 2009 to 34th this year.

transparency intlAccording to Transparency International’s report for 2010, Pakistan is more corrupt today than it was last year.

The report released here on Tuesday by TI Pakistan’s chief Adil Gilani and in Berlin by its president Huguette Labelle said that on a list of 178 countries Pakistan fared worse than Bangladesh and India.

The perception of the most corrupt government was in 1996 when Pakistan had achieved the second position.

Mr Gilani claimed that billions of rupees were siphoned off through corruption which seriously affected the country’s progress.

The report showed that nearly three-fourth of the 178 countries had scored below five on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10, indicating a serious corruption problem.

The country perceived to be most corrupt was Somalia with a score of 1.1, followed by Afghanistan and Myanmar with 1.4.

Denmark, Singapore and New Zealand were perceived to be the most honest countries with a score of 9.3.

Mr Gilani said that Bangladesh was perceived to be the most corrupt country in 2001, 2002 and 2003, but it took corrective measures and this year it was placed at number 39. Owing to decrease in corruption, Bangladesh’s GDP grew by five per cent, compared to Pakistan’s 2.4 per cent last year.

Mr Gilani said that over the past two years there had been unprecedented cases of corruption involving tens of billions of rupees in public sector organisations which should have been taken up by the National Accountability Bureau.

He claimed that the government lacked the political will to fight corruption because of which the Supreme Court had to take suo motu action against organisations like the National Insurance Corporation, Pakistan Steel and rental power plants.

He said a delay in setting up an independent accountability commission by parliament might aggravate the situation.

He said that the direct impact of increased corruption was witnessed in the shape of up to 120 per cent rise in food prices within a year — sugar from Rs54 a kg to Rs80, pulses from Rs50 a kg to Rs110, eggs from Rs35 a dozen to Rs60, etc.

Mr Gilani said the perception of corruption had caused a drop in foreign direct investment to $2.21 billion during 2009-10 from $371 billion the previous year. The foreign debt increased from $40 billion in 1999 to $46 billion in 2008 and $53 billion this year.

He said that an across-the-board application of the rule of law, merit-based appointments and easy access to justice were the only solutions to the problem of corruption which was responsible for poverty, inflation, terrorism, illiteracy, lack of electricity and hoarding of essential food commodities.

He said the Supreme Court in its order in the NIC case had considered violation of public procurement rules as a criminal act and a federal crime and this would help reduce corruption.

The TI’s president Huguette Labelle said in a message that the results again showed that corruption was a global problem that must be addressed through global policy reforms.

She said that it was commendable that the Group of 20 in pursuing financial reforms had made strong commitments to transparency and integrity ahead of its November summit in Seoul, but the process must be accelerated.

She urged the G20 to mandate greater government oversight and public transparency in all measures they took to reduce systematic risks and opportunities for corruption and fraud in the public as well as in the private sector.

Comparing the level of corruption perception in the region, the report said that Pakistan held the position of the second most corrupt country in 1996 and now it had improved to be placed at the 34th number, while India had improved from 9th to 91st position and Bangladesh from 4th to 43rd position during the period.

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