HH the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah received at Bayan Palace
Kuwait worst in the Gulf: Transparency International Qatar, UAE the best

BERLIN, Dec 5, (Agencies): Kuwait, along with Saudi Arabia, has scored the worst ranking of all the Gulf Cooperation Council states in a global league table of perceived official corruption, according to a report published by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) on Wednesday.

The index on state sector corruption ranked Kuwait jointly 66th with Saudi Arabia with No 1 Denmark the least corrupt and No 174 Somalia the most corrupt.

On a scale introduced for this year’s report, where 0 is the “highly corrupt” and 100 the “least corrupt”, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia both earned 44 points to finish in the upper half of the index.

Qatar and United Arab Emirates were jointly the least corrupt countries in the GCC, finishing 27th in the world with 68 points while Bahrain was 3rd in the GCC and 53rd in the world with Oman 4th in the GCC and 61st in the world.

According to the index all the GCC countries, except United Arab Emirates, saw an increase in corruption as all of them moved down the table this year as Qatar was 22nd last year, United Arab Emirates 28, Bahrain 46th, Oman 50th, Kuwait 54th and Saudi Arabia 57th.

Meanwhile, Greece scored the worst ranking of all 27 European Union nations  falling below ex-communist Bulgaria as public anger about graft soars during the country’s crisis.
The index also showed other struggling euro zone countries scoring poorly such as Italy which ranked below Romania.

Releasing its annual corruption perceptions index, Berlin-based TI urged European and other governments to try much harder to turn promises of fighting graft into action in areas such as public tenders, political party financing and tax evasion.

“The results of the survey should be a warning signal for the EU to require more information and accountability from its member states,” said TI’s EU analyst Jana Mittermaier, adding that this should apply also to current efforts to establish European banking oversight.

Weak or inefficient judicial systems, poor public audit services and cosy ties between government and business all contribute to perceptions of corruption in some European countries, she said.

TI’s index, which this year ranks 176 countries, measures perceptions of graft rather than actual levels due to the secrecy that surrounds most corrupt dealings.

Greece took 94th place, below the poorer, newer democracies such as Bulgaria and Romania. Italy was placed 72nd, just ahead of Bulgaria at 75th but behind Romania on 66th.

In the 2011 index, Greece was 80th with Bulgaria scoring worst among the EU nations in 86th place.
Greeks have long complained about corruption but anger has soared, particularly about tax evasion among the rich, as the government has imposed wave after wave of austerity that the country’s international lenders have demanded.

The EU has kept Bulgaria and Romania out of its Schengen zone, which allows passport-free travel between member states, due to concerns about corruption. A recent study showed Bulgarians gave about 150,000 bribes to civil servants every month last year, more than in 2010.

Portugal and Ireland, which like Greece have received euro zone bailouts, were placed 33 and 25 respectively in the table.

TI cautioned that the 2012 rankings did not entirely reflect relatively recent developments such as the advent of a reform-minded Italian government because some of the research shaping the index dated back more than a year.

New Zealand, Denmark and Finland vied for the overall top slot as being perceived as the least corrupt countries, while Somalia, North Korea and Afghanistan shared last place.

Among the major global economies, the United States ranked 19, up from 24, Germany was at 13, up from 14, Japan and Britain tied for 17th place and France was at 22, up from 25 last year.

Swardt said it was worrying that two thirds of all countries surveyed ranked below 50 on TI’s new scale where 100 is perceived as most clean and 0 most corrupt. “It is widely recognised today that high levels of corruption in the public sector have hampered the global economic recovery,” he said.

Corruption has become a hot political issue fuelling protests from China and Russia to the Arab world.
China saw its ranking slip to 80 from 75 last year, but Swardt said the Beijing leadership showed a greater understanding of the dangers of ignoring corruption, including among Chinese companies operating both at home and abroad.

Last month, state media quoted Communist Party chief Xi Jinping as saying that if corruption was allowed to run wild, the Communist Party risked major unrest and the collapse of its rule.

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