, 2011 (TRIBUNE) The Philippines under President Aquino and his straight path mantra failed to breach perceptions of being among the most corrupt country in the region, landing 129th among 182 countries on the list, the worst among key Asian economies and 25th of 35 countries in the Asia-Pacific, the latest of the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) of Berlin-based Transparency International (TI) showed.

While the country improved in its ranking to 129th this year from last year’s 134th and its score to 2.6 out of a perfectly clean 10 from 2.4 a year ago, the Philippines is dead last among its peers in the region compared with the fifth in the TI ranking Singapore, 60th Malaysia, 80th Thailand, 100th Indonesia and 112th Vietnam.

The TI described its annual ranking as being based on how corrupt the countries’ public sector is perceived to be and was drawn from a composite index, a combination of polls, drawing on corruption-related data collected by a variety of reputable institutions.

“The CPI reflects the views of observers from around the world, including experts living and working in the countries or territories evaluated,” according to the TI.

The score given to the Philippines in the latest survey was the best since the 2004 and 2002 survey under the presidency of Gloria Arroyo when a 2.6

grade was given but still paled to the 3.6 and 3.3 scores the country got in 1999 and 1998 respectively during the term of former President Joseph Estrada.

The country is bunched with Armenia, Dominican Republic, Honduras and Syria which all have a 2.6 score.

TI stated that two-thirds of ranked countries scored less than the median 5 with New Zealand ranking first, followed by Finland and Denmark.

Somalia and North Korea (included in the index for the first time), were perceived as the most corrupt countries.

“2011 saw the movement for greater transparency take on irresistible momentum, as citizens around the world demand accountability from their governments. High-scoring countries show that over time efforts to improve transparency can, if sustained, be successful and benefit their people,” Transparency International managing director Cobus de Swardt said.

Most Arab Spring countries rank in the lower half of the index, scoring below 4. Before the Arab Spring, a Transparency International report on the region warned that nepotism, bribery and patronage were so deeply engrained in daily life that even existing anti-corruption laws had little impact.

Eurozone countries suffering debt crises, partly because of public authorities’ failure to tackle the bribery and tax evasion that are key drivers of debt crisis, are among the lowest-scoring EU countries.

Corruption is hampering efforts to tackle the eurozone debt crisis, the TI added, as Greece and Italy scored badly in a list of nations seen to be the most sleaze-ridden.

The economic dramas in the euro area developed “partly because of public authorities’ failure to tackle the bribery and tax evasion that are key drivers of the debt crisis,” said the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI).

On a scale of zero (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 10 (thought to have little corruption), Italy scored 3.9 and Greece 3.4, ranking 69 and 80 respectively in the list of 182 countries.

Robin Hodess, TI’s research director, said the eurozone crisis “reflects poor financial management, lack of transparency and mismanagement of public funds.”

“There is a strong link between poor performance in terms of perceptions of corruption and broader issues around economic governance,” added Hodess in an interview with AFP.

When graft is widespread, “people feel the pinch at all levels,” she said, calling on Rome and Athens to do “much more” in fighting corruption.

The governments “need to focus on how public funds are managed in the countries,” added Hodess, saying that both large-scale and small-time corruption needed to be battled.

Globally, war-torn Somalia and North Korea were joint bottom of the list, perceived to be the world’s most corrupt countries with a score of 1.0.

Iraq climbed a few places up the list but was still close to the bottom at 175th and Afghanistan remained rooted at 180th despite efforts to curb bribery and corruption there. Libya was 168th.

Most Arab Spring countries ranked in the lower half of the index, scoring below 4.

TI said it had warned before the revolutions in the region that “nepotism, bribery and patronage were so deeply ingrained in daily life that even existing anti-corruption laws had little effect.”

At the other, more virtuous, end of the scale, New Zealand topped the ranking with 9.5 points, coming just ahead of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Singapore.

“This year, we have seen corruption on protesters’ banners be they rich or poor,” said TI chief Huguette Labelle.

“Whether in a Europe hit by a debt crisis or an Arab world starting a new political era, leaders must heed the demands for better government,” she added.

France and Germany, to which many are looking for a solution to the eurozone crisis, scored relatively well, coming in 25th and 14th respectively.

The United States was one place above France, while fellow global powerhouse China placed 75th. Russia was one of the worst countries on the list, coming in 143rd with a score of 2.4.

The survey “uses data from 17 surveys that look at factors such as enforcement of anti-corruption laws, access to information and conflicts of interest,” TI said.

“Corruption continues to plague too many countries around the world,” the TI concluded.


'No need to replace economic team' (The Philippine Star) Updated December 01, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - A Palace official claimed yesterday that there is no need to relieve members of the economic team of President Aquino since the local economy remained resilient and stable despite the government’s underspending and the global recession.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda rejected the proposal of opposition Rep. Milagros Magsaysay of Zambales and other minority lawmakers to replace the economic managers following the lower-than-expected gross domestic product (GDP) growth this year.

Lacierda said National Economic and Development Authority director general Cayetano Paderanga has already explained the reasons why GDP is low, part of which could be attributed to the slowdown in exports.

“This is brought about by the downturn in the global economy. So negative 13 but if you look at other numbers it’s high, like, for instance, government consumption is 9.4, capital formation is 24.5,” he pointed out.

“So there is no basis for the minority congressmen to ask for the relief of the economic team. This is primarily, first and foremost, an effect on the downturn in the global economy,” Lacierda said.

Another factor is the Aquino government’s policy not to take the route of first world economies like the US and Europe – that are now battling their own economic crises – since government spending has always been prudent and judicious.

“If you look at our fiscal situation in the country today, we have not experienced the same pitfalls as the European economy. Our banks have been very, very prudent in their practices. Our government has not piled on debts,” Lacierda said.

“We have been very prudent in our fiscal situation. So we believe that domestically we are in a good situation and that’s the reason why we are able to give out the P10,000 PEI (productivity enhancement incentive) bonus for government employees,” he said.

“Based on our fiscal situation right now, we have been very, very prudent. We have avoided the pitfalls that other nations, other economies have experienced. Our infrastructure spending is going to go up,” he added, vowing increased spending in 2012.

Lacierda said the government has observed the “practices that we believe have been conducive in avoiding the pitfalls in the other nations.”

The Aquino administration also believes that while infrastructure spending in 2011 has been slow, mostly because the government wants disbursements to be accurate, such spending “will spill over to the next year. And also we have the 2012 infrastructure projects that would be moving by next year.”

“So I think we are in a good situation. We are handling the situation pretty well,” Lacierda said, adding the economy is not in a vacuum.

“Of course, we are subject to the excesses or the recession in the other countries or the downturn in the global economy but, domestically, we believe we are in a good situation,” he added.

Magsaysay said the latest economic statistics for the first quarter of 2011 confirm that the economy under President Aquino is quickly running out of steam.

“Because of his lack of vision and execution and his obsession with persecuting his predecessors, our economy has now become a train falling off the tracks, headed for a crash-and-burn disaster,” Magsaysay said.

She said the country’s growth has slowed down to 3.2 percent in just 18 months. “As usual, the biggest victims of this slowdown will come from the ranks of the poor,” she said.

Magsaysay cited surveys of the Social Weather Stations that showed hunger as well as self-rated poverty went up in the past several months.

House Senior Deputy Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said Malacañang could not blame the previous administration since the current crop of economic managers acknowledged before congressional leaders last year that they inherited a healthy economy that reached a peak eight percent growth in the second quarter of 2010.

Suarez said instead of maintaining the country’s growth momentum and shielding it from the global economic downturn by public spending and generating more business, the Aquino administration “has cold-bloodedly decided to pursue his trial by publicity of Arroyo, inciting the mob against her in order to distract the public’s attention away from his own performance.” – Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero

Pinoy optimism for 2012 up - SWS By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) Updated December 02, 2011 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - More Filipinos expect their lives to improve in the next 12 months, the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showed.

The survey, conducted from Sept. 4 to 7, found 39 percent of respondents who expect their quality of life to improve (“optimists”) in the next 12 months, while nine percent expect it to get worse (“pessimists”), for a net score of 30.

The latest figure was higher than the 36 and 35 percent optimism recorded in June and March, respectively.

Those who expect life to worsen (“pessimists”) remained at October’s nine percent level, but a decline from 11 percent in the March survey.

Similarly, net optimism over the economy’s prospects in the next 12 months rose further into the “very high” territory at +22 in the September survey from +14 in June and from a mere “high” +4 last March.

Meanwhile, those who think the economy will grow improved to 35 percent from 29 percent in June.

Those who expect the economy to worsen dropped to 14 percent in September from 16 percent in June and 24 percent in March.

However, the third-quarter net economic optimism score was less than the +30 and +29 recorded in November and September last year.

The survey used face-to-face interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide.

The results of the SWS survey were published in the newspaper BusinessWorld yesterday.

According to the SWS, those who said quality of life improved (“gainers”) over the past 12 months hit 26 percent, the highest since the quarterly survey under the current administration started in September last year.

Those who said their lives worsened (“losers”) went down to 32 percent in September, the lowest this year, though still higher than the levels seen in the September and November 2010 surveys.

In terms of geographic representation, the third quarter survey found both net personal and net economic optimism worsening in the Visayas.

The Visayas and Metro Manila also saw their net scores in terms of whether life improved or worsened falling further into negative territory in the third quarter.

None of the socioeconomic classes represented showed lower scores in terms of net personal and economic optimism, as well as change in quality of life over the past 12 months, and improvements were recorded in some cases.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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