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for a Price: Corruption's Toll on the Health of Nations
"A virus capable of crippling government, discrediting
public institutions and private corporations, and having
a devastating impact on the human rights of populations,
and thus undermining society and its development, affecting
in particular the poor."
Most Corrupt Countries
Transparency International, 2001.
Final Declaration: Global Forum
on Fighting Corruption and Safeguarding Integrity II,
According to the nonprofit group Transparency International
(TI), we face a worldwide crisis involving pervasive misuse
of power by public officials. Every year TI's Corruption
Perceptions Index is scrutinized by government, business,
and the press in listed countries. A low score elicits
streams of soul-searching commentary assigning blame or
proposing solutions. The high-profile attention the list,
first issued in 1995, now receives indicates a sea change
in attitudes: No longer is graft regarded as business
corruption has become a priority in the United Nations,
multilateral organizations, and lending agencies; among
governments that realize they cannot attract investment
or aid without tackling it; and among citizens who are
more acutely aware of how corruption undermines the health
of their societies.
1990s saw a proliferation of international and local initiatives
to increase accountability and transparency. The banks
and corporations that abet corruption overseas are being
subjected to heightened scrutiny. And in this past year
alone, in some dozen countries, sitting and former government
leaders or their relatives were prosecuted for lining
their pockets with public funds.
Least Corrupt Countries
Transparency International, 2001.
Corruption is narrowly defined for TI's indices as abuse
of public office for private gain. But fish rots from
the head. In many countries where high-level dishonesty
is perceived, corruption is a way of life.
Whether the payoff is called baksheesh, la mordida, kola,
Schmiergeld, or chai-pani Kharcha, whether corruption
involves graft, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, nepotism,
cronyism, money laundering, or just a mandatory tip, in
a culture of corruption, ordinary people pay the price.
Crisis of Corruption
Lobe, writing for Rome's Inter Press Service, reports
on this year's Corruption Perceptions Index from Transparency
Raúl Monge and Silvia Ortiz, in an eye-opening
piece for Mexico City's liberal newsmagazine Proceso,
uncover bribery's role in the destruction of Mexico's
Taking Multinationals to Task
Chris McGreal, of The Guardian Weekly, reports
on the upcoming trial of European and Canadian multinational
companies accused of having bribed Lesotho officials in
exchange for contracts.
Hypocrisy Surrounds Bribery
Richard Gwyn, writing for The Toronto Star, takes
a hard look at the ways in which wealthy countries profit
from corruption in poorer countries.
Albania: Up from the Bottom
Alfred Peza, writing for Klan, an independent weekly
magazine from Tirana, Albania, assesses Albania's progress
since the World Bank declared it the most corrupt country
You've Got to Pay to Pee
Olsi Kolami, in a report for Tirana's centrist Shekulli,
finds that patients in Albania's hospitals must bribe
hospital workers for anesthesia, surgery, and the right
to use the bathroom.
Mentality" in Germany
"We Germans," writes Hans-Ludwig Zachert for
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, "have been
accustomed in the past, not without considerable smugness
and even arrogance, to look down on the 'baksheesh mentality'
in other countries. However, the large number of press
accounts about bribery cases... prove that there are no
grounds for such complacency..."
Ghana's Zero-Tolerance Policy
Claims a Victim
George Sarpong, World Press Review's correspondent
in Ghana, on the arrest of Minister of Youth and Sports
Brazil on the Road to Change
Luís Henrique Amaral, of São Paulo's centrist
newsmagazine Veja, takes stock of Brazil's battle
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