Central Asia: ‘Very little progress’ in combatting corruption — report

BISHKEK (TCA) — This year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), released by Transparency International on January 29, paints a bleak picture of anti-corruption efforts in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In a region where only one country scores over 50 out of 100 and all other countries score 45 or less out of 100 on the index, there has been “very little progress” in combatting corruption over several years, the watchdog says.

At the very bottom, Turkmenistan earns the lowest score in the region (20), followed by Uzbekistan (23) and Tajikistan (25).

Given its average score of 35, Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the second lowest scoring region in the index, ahead of Sub-Saharan Africa which has an average score of 32.

From Russia to Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, many democratic institutions and norms across the region are currently under threat – often from authoritarian rule. Governments throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia are failing to preserve the checks and balances that are foundational to democracy and instrumental in controlling corruption, the report said.

Corruption thrives where weak democratic practices exist. Combined with a lack of political will to combat corruption in the public sector, countries across the region are undermining the political rights of their citizens. As a result, people are unable to speak out, demonstrate or associate with organisations or activist groups – at least not without fear of consequences. At the same time, corruption locks these countries in a vicious cycle where the ruling politicians have no real incentive to allow for democratisation and strengthening of independent institutions, the report said.

In many post-Soviet countries, checks and balances do not exist that would ordinarily keep powerful private individuals and groups from exerting exceptional influence over government decisions. In these settings, illicit lobbying practices take place and conflicts of interest go undisclosed, Transparency International says.

On the index, Denmark was the highest-ranked country globally with a score of 88, followed by New Zealand with 87.

Afghanistan, with 16 points, ranked 172nd in the world.

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Times of Central Asia