Transparency International has issued its world corruption league table for 2008 and Somalia comes bottom of the list. It will be no surprise to learn that Myanmar, Iraq, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe are close rivals for this dubious honour.
The least corrupt country is Denmark with the UK coming in at 16 and the USA at 18. Spain slips from 22 to 28 in its rankings sharing that spot with Qatar plus Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which sounds like a 50s pop group.
TI indicates that corruption is widespread in Spain. It affects most the political parties followed by the private sector, then Parliament, the media and lastly public employees and the legal system.
TI says its Global Corruption Report 2009: Corruption and the Private Sector (GCR) shows “how corrupt practices constitute a destructive force that undermines fair competition, stifles economic growth and ultimately undercuts a business’s own existence.”
In the case of Spain it is the town planning scandals that have seen its rating drop – a situation that will surprise few Spaniards or foreign residents living in the country. This was confirmed by Jesús Lizcano, TI’s president in Spain who singled out town planning as the principal cause of corruption in his country.
In presenting the document Lizcano said that some laws had been introduced to help in the fight against corruption but conceded there were still major deficiencies. He pointed to the 2007 law on the financing of political parties that had progressive measures prohibiting secret donations.
However he added that local parties were not sufficiently integrated in to the accounting system of the central organisations so illicit payments could still be made at that level.
In addition the law governing the issuing of contracts in the public sector had not yet incorporated the new directives laid down by the European Parliament and Council. Indeed the system of adjudicating contracts for works, services and supplies needed global reform in Spain.
It should be stressed that it was not all negative news. Towards the end of 2007 the Guardia Civil formed a special unit to tackle town planning crime and its investigations are bearing fruit. TI also recognised that Spain was improving its legal capacity to tackle corruption and this was largely due to international accords although it was noted that Spain had not yet ratified its civil and criminal conventions on corruption brought in by the Council of Europe.
To visit the TI website and to view the league table click here.