Puerto Rico slipped one notch to 33rd place in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, but remains among the world’s cleanest countries in terms of levels of dishonesty in the public sector. In 2012, the island placed 32nd.
This year, Puerto Rico scored a 62, placing closer to the positive side of the 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean) scale. More than two thirds of the 177 countries in the 2013 index scored below 50, Transparency International said Tuesday.
“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, chair of the Berlin-based organization.
In the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, Denmark and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 91. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia this year make up the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each.
Despite several high profile corruption cases that have gone public in recent years, Puerto Rico fared better in this year’s index than several other countries in the region, including the Dominican Republic (123rd place, with a score of 29), Costa Rica (49th place, with a score of 53), Cuba (63rd place, with a score of 46), Colombia (94th place, with a score of 36), and Mexico (106th place, with a score of 34.)
Generally speaking, 66 percent of the countries that make up the Americas region scored below 50, with the cleanest country being Canada, and Haiti being the most corrupt.
“The top performers clearly reveal how transparency supports accountability and can stop corruption,” said Labelle. “Still, the better performers face issues like state capture, campaign finance and the oversight of big public contracts which remain major corruption risks.”
The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on experts’ opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behavior of those in public positions, while a lack of accountability across the public sector coupled with ineffective public institutions hurts these perceptions.
Public sector corruption threatens to undermine global initiatives
Corruption within the public sector remains one of the world’s biggest challenges, Transparency International said, particularly in areas such as political parties, police, and justice systems. Public institutions need to be more open about their work and officials must be more transparent in their decision-making. Corruption remains notoriously difficult to investigate and prosecute.
Future efforts to respond to climate change, economic crisis and extreme poverty will face a massive roadblock in the shape of corruption, Transparency International warned. International bodies like the G20 must crack down on money laundering, make corporations more transparent and pursue the return of stolen assets.
“It is time to stop those who get away with acts of corruption. The legal loopholes and lack of political will in government facilitate both domestic and cross-border corruption, and call for our intensified efforts to combat the impunity of the corrupt,” said Labelle.