New Zealand has dropped from its previous first position to now second position in the Global Perceptions Index 2018.
New Zealand had shared the number position with Denmark in 2015 and 2016 with 91 and 90 points and retained its first-rank in 2017 with 89 points when Denmark dropped to the second position with 88 points.
This year New Zealand had lost two points (to 87) – a notable trend of the last few years where NZ had successively lost points despite maintaining top rank - whereby ceding the first place to Denmark.
The index that ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and businesspeople uses a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 is highly corrupt, and 100 is very clean.
Transparency International released its report Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 on Tuesday, January 29, ranking Denmark and New Zealand in the top two spots with 88 and 87 points respectively out of 100.
New Zealand has been witnessing a drop of one point in 2015, 2016 and 2017, with two points in the 2018 index.
Since the inception of the TI-CPI in 1995, New Zealand has vied for first place with the Scandinavian countries. For the 2017 TI-CPI, Denmark came second to New Zealand.
New Zealand's drop in ranking is primarily due to poorer results from the survey conducted by one of the 13 sources of the TI-CPI, the World Economic Forum's Executive Opinion Survey.
Because of the closeness of the TI-CPI values amongst the top-ranked group of countries, it is unclear if this change for New Zealand is a one-time deviation or a warning from executives of emerging concerns here.
India goes up three notches in Global Corruption Index
Meanwhile, India, on the other hand, has climbed three notches up- from 81st in 2017 to 78th in 2018
"As India gears up for its upcoming elections, we see little significant movement in its CPI score, which moved from 40 in 2017 to 41 in 2018. Despite spectacular public mobilisation in 2011, where citizens demanded that the government take action against corruption and advocated for the passage of the comprehensive Jan Lokpal Act, these efforts ultimately fizzled and fell flat, with little to no movement on the ground to build the specialist anti-corruption infrastructure required," the Transparency International said in a press release.
China, which was ranked 77 in 2017, dropped ten positions and is ranked 87 in 2018. However, Pakistan, which was ranked 117 in 2017, is at the same position in 2018.
Countries Syria and South Sudan were ranked at the bottom respectively. The US has dropped out of the top 20 countries for the first time in 2011.
It said that despite stagnation and declines in the 2018 scores, there are promising political developments within the Asia Pacific region, particularly in Malaysia (47), Maldives (31), Pakistan (33) and India (41) that will be important to watch moving forward.
"In all four countries, massive public mobilisation against corruption coupled with significant political participation and voter turnout resulted in new governments that promise extensive anti-corruption reforms. However, despite these encouraging developments, we are yet to see how this translates into solid action, especially when it comes to combating elusive forms of grand corruption."
The CPI reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.
The Transparency International said that cross analysis with global democracy data reveals a link between corruption and the health of democracies. "Full democracies score an average of 75 on the CPI, with no full democracy scoring less than 50. In 2016, the United States was downgraded from a full to a flawed democracy in the Democracy Index, a gradual downward trend which started in 2008. In 2018, the US received its lowest Freedom in the World Index score for political rights since 1972, when measurement began."
"With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe - often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies - we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens' rights," said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International. "Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption," it noted.
"More than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of only 43. Since 2012, only 20 countries have significantly improved their scores, including Estonia and Côte D'Ivoire, and 16 have significantly declined, including, Australia, Chile and Malta," the release said.
It said that the US had dropped four points since last year with a score of 71. "This marks the first time since 2011 that the US falls outside of the top 20 countries on the CPI."