By Luke Balleny
A critical look at some of the good governance stories from the past week:
As any commercial artist knows, publicity is key to sales - just ask Damian Hirst. News reports on Chinese artist Zhang Bingjian’s project to create a hall of fame consisting of portraits of corrupt Chinese officials have been remarkably consistent over the last two years. The UK’s Daily Telegraph wrote about the story in March 2010, Reuters did so in May 2011, The Wall Street Journal and Canada’s Toronto Star in August 2011, the U.S.’s National Public Radio in June 2012 and most recently the BBC in July 2012. It’s the story that refuses to die.
This headline may not come as a surprise to those with interested in anti-corruption news. However, three of the five cases of corruption involving the oil and gas sector came as a result of United Nations investigations into Iraq’s oil-for-food programme. Count those as one case and suddenly the number of UK corruption prosecutions involving the oil and gas industry is on par with medical goods, insurance and engineering and construction sectors. Suddenly, the oil and gas industry doesn’t look so bad after all.
If you’re a Romanian who opposed the government's efforts to impeach President Traian Basescu, you have an interesting conundrum. Polls show that the majority of Romanians want Basescu impeached but the country’s Constitutional Court says that over 50 percent of the population have to vote in the referendum for it to be valid. As a Basescu supporter, do you a) vote against his impeachment or b) not vote and hope that less than 50 percent of eligible Romanians go to the polls?
"The PMO [prime minister's office] takes great exception to the careless and irresponsible publication of false reports that can create wrong impressions and perceptions thereby misleading the Somali people," the BBC quoted a Somali government statement as saying. But the perception that Somalia is corrupt was not created by this latest damning UN report that said that out of every $10 received by the transitional government between 2009 and 2010, $7 "never made it into state coffers." Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2011, ranked Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world - 182nd out of 182 countries. The ranking is not based on bribery prosecutions, it’s based purely on perceptions of corruption.
When a state run firm is rich enough to loan money to the government, you know that something is back to front. Not only does it raise questions about independence and transparency but one has to wonder how Nigeria’s National Petroleum Corp has so much money given that the country’s oil industry is chronically underfunded.