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PAN, November 17, 2009

Transparency International: Afghanistan 2nd most corrupt nation

Finance Ministry spokesman Aziz Shams acknowledged the existence of corruption in Afghan institutions

PAN Monitor

KABUL: Afghanistan, a recipient of billions of dollars in international aid, achieved another dubious distinction on Tuesday when an influential global watchdog ranked it as the second most corrupt nation of the world.

The Berlin-based Transparency International said in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) Somalia stayed the world's most corrupt country, followed by conflict-torn Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mohammad Qasim Fahim, Karzai's pick for vice president, has been implicated by US-based Human Rights Watch and diplomats in abuses including murder during Afghanistan's 1990s civil war, weapons and drugs smuggling, and corruption.
AFP,November 17, 2009

As the world economy begins to register a tentative recovery and some nations continue to wrestle with ongoing conflict and insecurity, it is clear that no region of the world is immune to the perils of corruption.

Most of the 180 countries included in the 2009 CPI score below five on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (perceived to have low levels of corruption). Lingering at the bottom of the index are unstable countries, scarred by war and ongoing conflict.

According to the index, Somalia has a score of 1.1, Afghanistan 1.3, Myanmar 1.4 and Sudan tied with Iraq at 1.5. The results demonstrate that nations perceived to have the highest levels of public-sector graft are those plagued by long-running conflicts.

In Kabul, Finance Ministry spokesman Aziz Shams acknowledged the existence of corruption in Afghan institutions. But he bristled at the report and said the ministry recently launched serious measures for tackling corruption.

With help from the Interior Ministry and Anti-Corruption Commission, he added, the Finance Ministry had introduced a new programme for vehicles' registration, which shortened the time from weeks to just two days, in an effort to curb graft.

He also referred to an increase in the government's annual revenue from 4.5 billion afghanis in 2008 to 60 billion afghanis this year -- "a clear sign of falling corruption levels." The anti-graft drive would be expedited during Karzai's second term in office, he promised.

At the launch of the report, the Transparency International chairperson remarked: "Stemming corruption requires strong oversight by parliaments, a well-performing judiciary, independent and properly-resourced audit and anti-corruption agencies, vigorous law-enforcement as well as space for independent media and a vibrant civil society."

As Afghanistan dropped to 179th place from 176th in the list, Huguette Labelle called for the international fraternity to find more efficient ways of helping war-devastated countries to develop and sustain their own institutions.

Highest scorers in the 2009 CPI are: New Zealand at 9.4, Denmark at 9.3, Singapore and Sweden tied at 9.2 and Switzerland at 9. These scores reflect political stability, long-established conflict of interest regulations and solid, functioning public institutions.

A day earlier, President Hamid Karzai's administration announced it would set up a powerful anti-corruption body to investigate graft among senior officials. "President Karzai has dedicated his new five years term to fighting corruption," Interior Minister Hanif Atmar told reporters.

Flanked by US Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and British Ambassador Mark Sedwill, Atmar said prosecutors in the unit would be trained by officials from the EU police mission in Afghanistan, as well as others from Britain and the United States.

Category: Poverty, Corruption - Views: 11078