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An international organisation committed to the fight against corruption has published its 1998 Corruption Perceptions Index. According to Germany-based Transparency International, its list of 85 ranked countries is the most comprehensive index of "perceptions of corruption" to date. The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a "poll of polls" drawing upon numerous distinct surveys of expert and general public views of the extent of corruption in many countries around the world. According to Chairman of TI, Peter Eigen, "The 1998 CPI is a wake-up call to political leaders and to the public at large to confront the abundant corruption that pervades so many countries. We hope that the publication of the CPI will be an incentive to governments to confront the corruption in their countries. The poor scores received by many countries in the new index illustrates just how serious the global cancer of corruption really is. This has to change."
Mr Eigen noted that, "directly confronting corruption must be a top priority for most national governments and the international organisations concerned with development, economic growth and human progress. The 1998 Transparency International CPI covers 85 countries with the ones seen as having the least corruption obtaining scores of close to 10. Scandalously and sadly there are about 50 countries that do not even achieve a score of 5, and there are numerous countries with a score of less than 3."
TI Vice Chairman Frank Vogl pointed out: "The CPI scores, with their shocking portrayal of so many countries perceived to be home to rampant corruption, will spur Transparency International to be even more aggressive in mobilising initiatives to counter corruption world-wide. Securing democracy, alleviating poverty and human suffering, and sustaining investment and commerce, are inextricably dependent upon curbing corruption in most of the developing nations and across Central and Eastern Europe."
"Our ability to include more countries in the CPI than ever before will ensure that the public discussion of corruption will become even more widespread. Governments that have sought to brush this debate aside can no longer do so, as the whole world sees how their nations rank," said Mr. Eigen.
While the CPI covers a record of more than 80 countries, TI stressed that there are numerous countries not included because there is insufficient reliable data available. "It would be wrong for the press to run a headline declaring any country in the CPI as the most corrupt in the world, because we do not have data on all countries," said Dr. Johann Graf Lambsdorff of Göttingen University, Germany, who is the lead expert advising TI on the compilation of the CPI. "It must also be stressed that this is an index of perceptions of corruption," he added.
"The 1998 CPI shows that corruption is by no means perceived to be a plague confined to the developing countries. Numerous countries in transition in Central and Eastern Europe have very low rankings, while a number of leading industrial countries have scores that highlight the serious corruption problems that they must address," said Peter Eigen.
He stressed that the governments of the industrial countries "have a double responsibility - they must clean up their own houses, and they must forthrightly act to prevent their corporations from paying bribes around the world. These governments must now move with speed to enact domestic anti-corruption legislation to give effect to the Anti-Corruption Convention signed last December by the 29 members of the OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) and five additional countries."
Since its inception in 1995, the CPI has stimulated public debate about corruption. In some countries it has also led to substantive anti-corruption reform. It needs to be emphasised, though, that it can take some time for these actions to influence international perceptions, and be consequently reflected in the CPI.
Many of the world’s poorest nations are perceived to be among the most corrupt," noted Mr. Eigen. "The CPI helps to draw attention to this link and it represents a challenge to leading foreign aid granting agencies to make fighting corruption a key priority. We are delighted that an increasing number of these agencies now see the CPI as a valuable tool and are evolving constructive anti-corruption strategies for developing nations."
In the last three years many leading international organisations, such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the Organisation of American States, the OECD and the Global Coalition for Africa have articulated anti-corruption policies, often with TI involvement.
The annual CPI sensitises public opinion world-wide to the corruption issue, influences the policies of major aid agencies and is a factor in the foreign investment decisions of multinational corporations.

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