Sat. May 8th, 2021

Countries with the least corruption are in the best position to weather the health and economic challenges of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, according to a closely-watched annual study released Thursday by an anti-graft organization.

Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures the perception of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople, concluded that countries that performed well during the pandemic invested more in health care, were “better able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to violate democratic norms.”

“Covid-19 is not just a health and economic crisis,” said Transparency head Delia Ferreira Rubio. “It is a corruption crisis – and one that we are currently failing to manage.”

A score of 0 is “highly corrupt” and 100 is “very clean.”

The link between corruption and coronavirus response could be widely seen around the world, according to the report’s analysis.

For example, Uruguay scored 71 — putting it at 21st place on the list. It invests heavily in health care and has a strong epidemiological surveillance system, which has helped not only with Covid-19 but also other diseases like yellow fever and Zika, Transparency said.

By contrast, Bangladesh, which scored 26 and placed 146th on the list, “invests little in health care while corruption flourishes during Covid-19, ranging from bribery in health clinics to misappropriated aid,” Transparency wrote. “Corruption is also pervasive in the procurement of medical supplies.”

Even in New Zealand, which placed No. 1 as the least corrupt nation with a score of 88 and has been lauded for its pandemic response, there was room for improvement, Transparency noted.

“While the government communicates openly about the measures and policies it puts in place, more transparency is needed around public procurement for Covid-19 recovery,” the organization wrote.

Overall, of 180 countries surveyed, two thirds scored below 50 out of 100 and the average score was 43. SOVEREIGNPH

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