Burma is the third most corrupt country in the Asia-Pacific region and the 156th most corrupt of 175 nations surveyed, says Berlin-based watchdog Transparency International (TI).
With a score of 21 out of 100 – with 100 being the “most clean” and zero meaning “highly corrupt” – Burma ties with Cambodia and Zimbabwe in 156th place. The most corrupt nations on earth are failed state Somalia and pariah state North Korea, according to TI.
Denmark is estimated to be the least corrupt country in the world, closely followed by New Zealand, then Finland and Sweden.
“Poorly equipped schools, counterfeit medicine, and elections decided by money are just some of the consequences of public sector corruption. Bribes and backroom deals don’t just steal resources from the most vulnerable – they undermine justice and economic development, and destroy public trust in government and leaders,” said TI on its website, introducing its Corruption Perceptions Index 2014.
“Corruption is a problem for all countries. A poor score is likely a sign of widespread bribery, lack of punishment for corruption, and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs. Countries at the top of the index also need to act. Leading financial centres in the EU and US need to join with fast-growing economies to stop the corrupt from getting away with it. The G20 needs to prove its global leadership role and prevent money laundering and stop secret companies from masking corruption.”
According to TI chairman José Ugaz:”Countries at the bottom need to adopt radical anti-corruption measures in favour of their people. Countries at the top of the index should make sure they don’t export corrupt practices to underdeveloped countries.”
In August, Burmese President Thein Sein urged officials to eliminate the endemic corruption that plagues the country’s civic sector.
According to a UN-commissioned survey, corruption is a top concern for businesses and foreign investors in Burma, with over 20 percent of 3,000 firms surveyed saying that corruption is a “very severe obstacle” to their operations. About half of the firms said that they paid $500 in extra “facilitation fees”, while a dozen said extra fees exceeded $10,000.
According to a 2014 survey by London-based NGO Global Witness, corruption and corporate secrecy is also endemic in Burma’s oil and gas sector.