LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The UK has stepped up a few notches in an annual index on perceptions of public sector corruption due to its anti-graft efforts on the international and domestic fronts, but will fail to progress further unless the government takes aim at its political scandals, a global watchdog group said Tuesday.
Among the 177 countries scored from zero for the highly corrupt to 100 for the cleanest, the UK was given 76 - two points better than last year - and rose three places from its 2012 position to 14th, overtaking Barbados, Belgium, Japan and Hong Kong in Transparency International’s (TI) 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
The CPI is based on perceived levels of public sector corruption, as scored by business people and country experts.
“The improved UK score reflects progress made on the government’s rhetoric on tackling corruption,” Robert Barrington, head of the organisation’s UK chapter said in a news release.
“This year the government has built on the positive momentum of the Bribery Act by taking a strong lead on anti-corruption at both the G8 and the OGP (Open Government Partnership) summits, notably committing to develop an action plan that coordinates anti-corruption activity across all government departments.”
However, the UK will not rise into the top 10 in future indices and may even slip down the rankings unless there is an end to the scandals that have harmed public trust in the UK’s political system, Barrington said.
“We see two principle vulnerabilities in the UK – continued scandals related to politics and parliamentary ethics, and the removal of key corruption defences as outlined in our recent report on local government corruption,” he added.
Denmark and New Zealand are perceived to be the least corrupt countries in the world, tying for the top spot in the index with a score of 91. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia came in last, all three scoring eight on the CPI.
In Europe, Spain is the biggest mover since last year’s index, dropping six points and ten places to rank 40th.
Countries that improved significantly since last year include Myanmar, Brunei, Laos, Senegal, Nepal, Estonia, Greece, Lesotho and Latvia.
Countries whose scores declined significantly include Syria, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Libya, Mali, Spain, Eritrea, Mauritius, Yemen, Australia, Iceland, Slovenia, Guatemala, Madagascar and Congo Republic.