Transparency Int’l calls for action against corruption

Anti-corruption experts call for a coherent policy to fight corruption in the Czech Republic, among the few countries where it seems to be rising.

Corruption worsened in the Czech Republic again in 2010, according to the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI), issued by Transparency International (TI). The country fell to 53rd place from 52nd in 2009, with 4.6 points out of 10. 

When compared to other countries in the European Union, the Czech Republic did poorly, coming in 21st out of 27 countries. Denmark led in the EU and tied with New Zealand and Singapore for first place in the global chart with 9.3 points. Greece was worst in Europe with 3.5 points and a global rank of 78th out of 178 countries. Somalia came in last worldwide.

The index defines corruption as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. Countries are ranked according to perception of public sector corruption based on assessments and opinion surveys from independent institutions.

 

CPI scores over time

“The drop in the Corruption Perception Index is real; the Czech Republic is among a few countries that went down significantly,”said David Ondráčka, head of Transparency International – Czech Republic (TIC). Countries that can be shown to have deteriorated from the previous report, in addition to the Czech Republic, are Greece, Hungary, Italy, Madagascar, Niger and the United States.

“In my view [the drop in the Czech Republic] is due to the lack of any coherent government anti-corruption policy in the last 18 months. The country went through a permanent election campaign and no reform was adopted,” Ondráčka said.

 “The police pretend to investigate serious fraud and economic crime, but specialized units are highly ineffective, and prosecutors would rather fight each other than criminals,” he said.

Among the other Visegrád Four countries, Poland scored best at 41st place in the world, while Hungary and Slovakia came in at 50th and 59th place respectively. Neighboring Germany and Austria scored much better and tied for 15th place worldwide, or seventh among EU countries.

Need for openness

The Czech-German Chamber of Commerce (ČNOPK) says that many of its German member companies belong to business branches that rely on public tenders, such as construction, medical and transport technology, and the energy industry.

“If we look at the large corruption scandals currently being discussed, we can see that they often belong to these very business sectors. Due to its hidden nature, we cannot assess the degree of actual corruption in individual cases, but many of the large German investors in the Czech Republic are calling for more transparent and open public tender procedures,” said Bernard Bauer, CEO of the ČNOPK. Big German investors in the Czech Republic want more transparent and open public tender procedures.

To combat the situation, TIC’s Ondráčka advocates real anti-corruption efforts and serious action. “The government should demonstrate it on real cases like the ecotender [to clean up environmental damage], photovoltaic boom or military procurement. And on the local level, voters made it clear they can’t stand godfathers anymore,” he said.

Bauer said that existing laws and regulations need to be put into practice more effectively.

“Legal procedures to detect and punish acts or attempts of corruption could be quicker and more efficient. On the level of public administration, we favor mechanisms of controlling and monitoring, as we know them from the private sector. These measures need public support,” Bauer said.

The chamber encourages its members to discuss their experiences with tenders and to propose corrective measures to political decision makers, he added.

On a global level, TI advocates stricter implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption. “Allowing corruption to continue is unacceptable; too many poor and vulnerable people continue to suffer its consequences around the world. We need to see more enforcement of existing rules and laws,” Huguette Labelle, chairwoman of TI, said in a press release.