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CORRUPTION PERCEPTION INDEX 2019 SHOWS WORRYING STAGNATION OF LATVIA’S CAPACITY TO CRACK DOWN ON POLITICAL CORRUPTION

According to the Corruption Perception Index 2019, published by Transparency International on 23rd January, Latvia ranks 44th with 56 points. This is a decline from 2018 when it was 41st with 58 points. Latvia shares the position with Costa Rica, Czech Republic and Georgia and is preceded by Cyprus, Poland and Cabo Verde (58 points).

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Over the last five years Latvia has moved up in the index only by one point. Results show a worrying stagnation of Latvia’s capacity to crack down on political corruption. 

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The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranks 180 countries around the world according to their perceived level of corruption in the public sector. Countries are assigned a score on a scale from 0 to 100, where 0 indicates a very high level of corruption and 100 a low level of corruption. Since 2012, the CPI takes into account 13 different data sources based on expert performance assessments and/or business people’s opinion surveys.

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A closer look at the data that make up Latvia’s CPI score for 2019 reveal an increasing risk for international business linked to actual or potential corruption in the form of excessive patronage, nepotism, job reservations, exchange of favours, secret party funding and suspiciously close ties between politics and business as well as diversion of public funds due to corruption. This is represented by a sharp decrease in the rating of the ICRG and a decrease in the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey.

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The trend in Latvia’s CPI score is in stark contrast with government’s pledges to have the best CPI score in the Baltics by 2022, and the objective set in the National Anti-Corruption Guidelines to reach 70 points by 2020. It indicates that, despite the discovery of several significant corruption schemes in the previous year, so far, government measures have failed to achieve a decisive crackdown on political corruption and/or a better climate for domestic and international business.

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The CPI 2019 results also show a widening gap between Latvia and the other two Baltic states, both of which have further improved their score in 2019. Estonia has maintained the 18th position (74 points, +1 point compared to 2018), while Lithuania has risen from 38th to 35th (60 points, + 1 point compared to 2018).

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Latvia is also below the EU average score of 64. At the global level, New Zealand (87), Denmark (87) and Finland (86) retain the first three places, while other Nordic countries follow closely (Sweden is 4th with 85 points and Norway is 7th with 84 points). Despite these countries still lead the ranking, the long-term trend in their CPI score show a worsening of the situation.

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In order to improve the chances of increasing the CPI in the next year, Delna recommends the government to implement international recommendations, strengthen internal control systems in public institutions and conflict of interest management. Delna also recommends to regulate lobbying to help shedding a light on the link between business and politics in the country, at the same time decreasing the risk of undue influence of private money in politics. To help increase businesses’ and citizens’ trust in how the government is using the public funds citizens should be involved in public procurement monitoring process, ensuring that public works are done in the public interest.

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Explanation of how CPI scores are calculated: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JoNjIfbPV0

Global CPI results: www.transparency.org/cpi2019

 

More information: Antonio Greco, antonio@delna.lv

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