THE PERCEPTION of public sector corruption in Slovakia is that it worsened over the past year. This is according to the world’s most cited corruption index, the 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index, published annually by the non-governmental watchdog Transparency International. In the organisation’s most recent report Slovakia retained its worst position among the Visegrad Group (V4) of central European countries and the fifth worst position in the entire EU, with only Greece, Italy, Bulgaria and Romania having worse scores in 2010.
The index measured perceived levels of public sector corruption in the previous year on a scale from 0 (most perceived corruption) to 10 (least perceived corruption). Slovakia had a score of 4.3 and tied with two other countries in 59th place among the 178 countries analysed, declining by five places compared to the previous year.
All the other V4 countries scored higher than Slovakia. The Czech Republic fell to 53rd place and Hungary also had a worse ranking, in joint 50th. Poland is the only V4 country to have improved, this time for the fifth consecutive year, ranking joint 41st.
Transparency International Slovensko (TIS) said Slovakia's score was the final evaluation of the years of Robert Fico’s government and said the score indicates that the fight against corruption was not among that government’s priorities. TIS stated that the lowered score reflected several failed cases of public procurement such as Slovakia’s sale of emissions quotas, the tender for electronic collection of highway tolls, and handling of the public-private partnership projects for construction of highways, as well as shortcomings in independent judicial nominations and a weak political culture.
“We could hardly find any good systemic measures adopted by the previous government to counter corruption,” said TIS director Gabriel Šípoš, as quoted by the SITA newswire. “There were very few of them.”
Šípoš noted that even though the current government has not been in office for long, his organisation sees positive changes underway, specifying that the government has started to disclose many public contracts, enabled broader public control of the judicial branch, and opened the doors for more participation and oversight by the third sector and the media.
However, Šípoš criticised the government of Iveta Radičová for making overtly political nominations to certain posts, SITA reported. Nevertheless, Šípoš said TIS is more optimistic about the year-end results as the fight against corruption is a defined priority in the government’s programme statement.
Three countries placed first in this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index – Denmark, New Zealand and Singapore, each with scores of 9.3. Public sector corruption was perceived to be most prevalent by respondents in Somalia with a score of 1.1 (in 178th place) and in Afghanistan and Myanmar. Slovakia finished at the tail end of the first third of surveyed countries. Since Slovakia scored 5.0, its best result, in the 2008 report it has fallen by 0.7 points. It fell 0.2 points compared to last year’s score.
The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a compound index which is calculated by the headquarters of Transparency International in Berlin. The index for Slovakia is derived from data from eight surveys from six institutions (World Economic Forum, Freedom House, The Economist Intelligence Unit, Institute for Management Development, Bertelsmann Foundation and HIS Global Insight), conducted throughout 2009-2010 among foreign and local businessmen and analysts. The index just released most closely reports on the actual condition of the country in the autumn of 2009, according to Transparency International, and it only measures perceived corruption in the public sector.
1. Nov 2010 at 0:00 | By Michaela Terenzani with press reports