Friday, November 16, 2007

Blogging, transparency and corruption

TJN can be pleased with itself today. For one thing, TJN's Richard Murphy has won blogger of the year award from Accountancy Age magazine. As they said:

Compared to other business fields there is a dearth of decent accountancy blogs out there. However, the best (and best focused) by a distance is that of tax campaigner Richard Murphy. He's embraced the medium to great effect and has carved out a role for himself as the profession's most effective opposition party.

It's nice to be recognised. But something much more substantial has come up too. Transparency International, the organisation that has done more than any other to put corruption onto the international agenda, now appears to be decisively moving towards adopting what TJN has been asking them to do. TI is going to rethink its Corruption Perceptions Index. It will put pressure on onshore and offshore financial centres like London, New York, or Singapore. It will focus more on the responsibilities of western governments and companies. And there is more. We very much welcome these words from Cobus de Swardt, the new head of TI. As the Financial Times put it:

TI's annual Corruption Perceptions Index country ranking is the world's most widely used corruption measure for governments, companies and others, but Mr de Swardt said the impression from the ranking - that poor and developing countries were the most corrupt - needed to be corrected, with greater attention to those "supplying" the financial resources enabling corruption to occur. He said the "political message" of the ranking would in future be that "countries that have less corruption internally very often continue to play a major role to perpetuate corruption in poorer parts of the world". Mr de Swardt plans a review of the CPI and TI surveys next year.

TJN has been critical of TI in the past, particularly of their poorly-designed Corruption Perceptions Index and their definition of corruption. Both these things remain live within TI, so our criticisms remain valid. Please take a moment, and read them here. In the meantime, we very much welcome the signs of real change from the Berlin-based corruption campaigners. TJN, in collaboration with others, will be starting a process of researching, creating and eventually launching a Financial Transparency Index in due course. Watch this space.


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