Back in 2009 I wrote a blog entitled “How to win the anti-corruption league”. In that blog I lamented the fact that Ukraine now stood at place 146 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index published by Transparency International. I noted how corruption reduced inward investment, and how helpful it would be if Ukraine could become the kind of country where the proverbial international investor sitting in a Cafe in Shanghai would say “Hey! I’ve heard Ukraine welcomes investors; the rule of law is good; and the court system is independent and incorruptible. Let’s invest there!” I also noted in 2009 that the authorities had announced lots of anti-corruption measures; but it remained to be seen whether anything actually happened (or, to use a fine English expression, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating”).

After the poor 2009 performance, Ukraine’s position improved in 2010 to place 134. So I was disappointed to see that in the 2011 survey, published recently, Ukraine had slid to place 152 out of 183 countries. Here’s the full 2011 list.

Does this matter? I’ve seen one or two clever analyses pointing out that the Transparency International index only shows corruption perceptions, rather than corruption. This is true; and reflects the fact that corruption is by its nature hard to measure. Nonetheless, like many respected indices of this type, the Transparency International index offers a way of appraising progress in countries’ efforts to fight corruption; and makes broad comparisons possible. To put it another way: would most people rather live in New Zealand, Denmark, Finland and Sweden (places 1-4); or in Somalia, North Korea, Myanmar and Afghanistan (places 180-182)?

I noted in 2009 that the Ukrainian authorities had just set up an “Independent Anti-Corruption Bureau” and hoped that by 2010 I would be able to point to its effective operation. No luck. While the current authorities have again announced new anti-corruption measures, I cannot yet report that the impact of these measures on day-to-day life has been dramatic. So I was interested to observe a recent discussion between two top Ukrainian business people about whether the authorities could, if they wished, make more rapid and dramatic progress against corruption. One said progress would take years: corruption was too deep-rooted for Ukraine to tackle swiftly. The other said that if it was a top priority for senior politicians both to be seen as incorruptible and to root out corruption all around them, rapid progress could, in fact, be made. What do you think?

Leigh Turner


This post is also available in Ukrainian.

Ukrayinska Dumka


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