Corruption in Covid spending looms large in Transparency International report

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The Guyana Government has delivered cash grants to citizens.

…Guyana gains one  point on index

Guyana has gained one point on the Transparency International corruption index moving from 40 to 41 and ranking 83 out of the 180 countries that have been assessed. And the global anti-corruption watchdog has urged greater transparency in the response to Covid-19, warning against graft and skewed tendering processes.

During the life of the previous government Guyana made significant gains on the index.
In its previous assessment Guyana was listed as one of several countries which made significant improvements since 2012.

In 2019 Guyana was  tied with Kuwait and Trinidad and Tobago, according to the report.”With a score of 40, Guyana is a significant improver on the CPI since 2012. While there is still much work to do, the government is demonstrating political will to hold former politicians accountable for the misuse of state resources,” the report had said.

According to the report, in the last eight years, only 22 countries significantly improved their CPI scores, including Guyana, Greece Guyana and Estonia.

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Meanwhile, this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide, the report stated.

It added that while most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in almost a decade, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50.

“Our research shows corruption not only undermines the global health response to COVID-19, but also contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy,” TI said.
The index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, uses a scale of zero to 100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean.

Like previous years, more than two-thirds of countries score below 50 on this year’s CPI, with an average score of just 43. The data shows that despite some progress, most countries still fail to tackle corruption effectively.

The top countries on the CPI are Denmark and New Zealand, with scores of 88, followed by Finland, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland, with scores of 85 each.

The bottom countries are South Sudan and Somalia, with scores of 12 each, followed by Syria (14), Yemen (15) and Venezuela (15).

Since 2012, 26 countries improved their CPI scores, including Greece, Myanmar and Ecuador. In the same period, 22 countries decreased their scores, including Lebanon, Malawi and Bosnia & Herzegovina.

The anti-corruption watchdog said corruption undermines an equitable response to COVID-19 and other crises, highlighting the importance of transparency and anti-corruption measures in emergency situations.

Covid  corruption

To fight COVID-19 and curb corruption, it is essential for countries to: Strengthen oversight  institutions.

TI said the COVID-19 response exposed vulnerabilities of weak oversight and inadequate transparency. To ensure resources reach those most in need and are not subject to theft by the corrupt, anti-corruption authorities and oversight institutions must have sufficient funds, resources and independence to perform their duties.
Additionally, TI urges governments  to ensure open and transparent contracting.

It noted that many governments have drastically relaxed procurement processes. “These rushed and opaque procedures provide ample opportunity for corruption and the diversion of public resources. Contracting processes must remain open and transparent to combat wrongdoing, identify conflicts of interest and ensure fair pricing,” the body said.

Defend democracy, promote civic space

Tranparency also recommends that countries maintain democratic norms during this time. It is observed that  COVID-19 crisis exacerbated democratic decline, with some governments exploiting the pandemic to suspend parliaments, renounce public accountability mechanisms and incite violence against dissidents. “To defend civic space, civil society groups and the media must have the enabling conditions to hold governments accountable,”
TI said.

The body states in its report that countries must publish relevant data, guarantee access to information to citizens.

“The publication of disaggregated data on spending and distribution of resources is particularly relevant in emergency situations, to ensure fair and equitable policy responses. Governments should also ensure people receive easy, accessible, timely and meaningful information by guaranteeing their right to access information, the report addes.



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