Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Transparency International - not good enough

Transparency International's 2007 Corruptions Perceptions Index (CPI) is out. The press release surrounding the launch is probably better than previous ones. They say good things like this:

Global financial centres play a pivotal role in allowing corrupt officials to move, hide and invest their illicitly gained wealth. Offshore financing, for example, played a crucial role in the looting of millions from developing countries such as Nigeria and the Philippines, facilitating the misdeeds of corrupt leaders and impoverishing those they governed.

And we also like the words of Akere Muna, an impressive Cameroonian-born jurist.

Criticism by rich countries of corruption in poor ones has little credibility while their financial institutions sit on wealth stolen from the world’s poorest people.

But then, unfortunately TI come ups with things like this:

The poorest countries suffer most under the yoke of corruption. And it is ultimately their responsibility to tackle the problem.

We disagree. This is a global responsibility. Finger-wagging at Africans and other poor countries is not only unhelpful, but counterproductive - for it lets half of the crooks off the hook. And then we get to the index itself, which is the thing that matters - for the CPI is bandied about all over the world.

We do not like this index. Not at all.

An astonishing half of the "cleanest" 20 percent of the countries in this index are tax havens. These are repositories for dirty loot sucked out of the world's poorest countries. Calling them the world's "cleanest" does nothing to encourage them to clean up. The index is based on flawed methodology, and a poor understanding of what corruption really is. We have already criticised Transparency International on many occasions. This new index, for all the nice words in the blurb, has done nothing to make us change our tune. Let's hope Transparency International can manage better next time.

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