Pakistan slips to 5-year low in graft perception index

Country’s ranking in Transparency International’s list fells from 117 to 120


Shahbaz Rana January 23, 2020
PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: In a blow to credibility of the ruling PTI, Pakistan’s ranking on global corruption perception index has slipped to five-year low of 120 out of 180 nations, highlighting further erosion of people’s confidence in the government which came into power with the slogan of accountability.

The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is an index published annually by the Transparency International (IT) which ranks countries "by their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by expert assessments and opinion surveys."

Pakistan is among dozens of nations where perceived corruption has worsened significantly over the past years, said the Transparency International’s  latest CPI report, released on Thursday.



The TI ranks levels of perceived corruption in governments across the world on the basis of 13 data sources from 12 specialized institutions monitoring governance and business climate.

In 2019, Pakistan has been ranked 120. The country’s previous year’s ranking was 117. It was the worst standing in past five year, as earlier in 2014 Pakistan had been ranked 126.

The TI report came a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan claimed that the reason behind civil-military conflicts in the past was corruption and that his government and the army are on the same page.

Pakistan’s score also decreased from 33 to 32, which is the lowest in two years.

The zero score means the nation is highly corrupt and 100 means very clean, Pakistan’s score of 32 was well below the global average of 43. Among the regional countries, Pakistan’s ranking and score was the fifth lowest in South Asia.

Bhutan has the highest ranking in the region, standing at 25th, followed by India that stood at 80. Sri Lanka’s ranking was 93 and Nepal 113. Maldives (130) Bangladesh (146) and Afghanistan (173) were the only countries that fell below the ranking of Pakistan.

The analysis showed that corruption was more pervasive in countries where big money can flow freely into electoral campaigns and where governments listen only to the voices of wealthy or well-connected individuals.

These two conditions were predominant in Pakistan where despite economic crunch people close to the federal cabinet ministers and ruling party got major benefits.

At a time when the government burdened people with heavy taxation, there were many affluent sectors, like the corporate sector, whose taxes were waived or reduced.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar on Wednesday questioned the tax-free status enjoyed by National Logistic Cell (NLC) during a meeting of the National Logistics Board.

However, his government did not do anything in the past one and half year to tax the NLC income. The NLC is currently planning to construct a shopping mall at the heart of the capital city.

Last year, the PTI government also faced allegations of increasing medicine prices in return of kickbacks. Prime Minister Imran Khan had to remove a federal minister and to order the new health adviser to cut the medicine prices.

The corruption report came in midst of wheat flour crisis, which was yet another indication of mismanagement by the federal and provincial governments.

It also gave rise to suspicions to financial wrongdoings, as the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) record showed that 48,081 metric tons of wheat was exported from Pakistan during the ban period.

Methodology

The 2019 CPI draws on 13 data sources from 12 independent institutions specializing in governance and business climate analysis.

The factors that the TI considered for ranking the countries include bribery, diversion of public funds, prevalence of officials using public office for private gain without facing consequences, ability of governments to contain corruption and enforce effective integrity mechanisms in the public sector, red tape and excessive bureaucratic burden which may increase opportunities for corruption.

The other factors were meritocratic versus nepotistic appointments in the civil service, effective criminal prosecution for corrupt officials, adequate laws on financial disclosure and conflict of interest prevention for public officials, legal protection for whistleblowers, journalists, investigators when they are reporting cases of bribery and corruption, state capture by narrow vested interests and access of civil society to information on public affairs.

The PTI government had won the 2018 elections on promise of promoting merit, ending corruption and taking corrupt people to task.

However, within one and half year, it ended up giving an amnesty to people facing corruption charges through promulgation of a presidential ordinance that also clipped the wings of the National Accountability Bureau, the top graft buster.

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