The Maldives has been omitted from Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for the third successive year.
“The Maldives fell a dramatic 57 places since it first appeared in the CPI between 2008 and 2011. Since then, there have been no positive systemic changes to the governance system,” explained Transparency Maldives (TM) Advocacy and Communications Manager Aiman Rasheed.
“The Maldives scored a lowly 2.5 on a scale of 0-10 – 10 being least corrupt and 0 most corrupt – in 2011. There have been no developments to suggest that the situation may have improved this year even if Maldives were to appear in the index,” he added.
In order to be included in the index, Transparency International must collect data from a minimum of three expert sources – usually from international organisations with expertise in governance of business climate analysis.
The widely used indicator of corruption again ranked Denmark as the country with the least perceived corruption problems out of 175 states in this year’s index.
Somalia and North Korea were ranked bottom for the second consecutive year.
After appearing in the CPI – published every year since 1995 – for the first time in 2007, the Maldives appeared in the index until 2011, when a ranking of 134th prompted TM to describe the country’s “grand scale” corruption as “systemic”.
Potential sources for the study this year included the World Bank, the IMD World Competitiveness Center, Freedom House, the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Bertelsmann Foundation.
TM’s Aiman Rasheed noted that the interaction between source and government institutions was crucial, with data only being provided from two sources in recent years.
TM’s own Global Corruption Barometer Survey – released shortly after the release of the 2013 CPI – found that 83 percent of people questioned felt corruption had increased or stayed the same during the past two years.
The survey of 1,002 people – randomly selected and interviewed by telephone – showed respondents to perceive the People’s Majlis and political parties to be the country’s most corrupt organisations.
The Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) – perceived as ‘extremely corrupt’ by 34 percent of respondents – immediately labelled the results of survey a “baseless” attack on its reputation, calling on local media not to publish such information.
A recent high profile case of alleged corruption involved the misappropriation of US$6 million in a deal involving tourism minister Ahmed Adeeb.
The minister – also deputy leader of the ruling Progressive Party of Maldives (PPM) – dismissed evidence published by the auditor general as politically motivated. PPM sponsored amendments to the Audit Act have subsequently resulted in the replacement of Niyaz Ibrahim as auditor general.
Audit reports released this year – concerning the financial years 2011 and 2012 – showed financial transactions worth MVR2.2 billion (US$142 million) had been conducted illegally by state institutions and corporations.
Niyaz told state television, however, that releasing audit reports had become “futile” as the accountability process had so far failed.
Evidence of a crisis of confidence in public institutions, revealed in a 2013 democracy survey, was bolstered by a recent International Foundation for Electoral Systems study which found that one in three Maldivians were offered bribes for their votes or witnessed vote buying in the March 2014 parliamentary polls.
The recently introduced Special Economic Zones Act – promising relaxed regulations for large foreign investments – has been criticised by the opposition Maldivian Democratic Party as paving the way for corruption. Both the Maldives Monetary Authority governor and the IMF have noted the importance of transparency in the regulation of the zones.
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