RIGA - The latest report on world corruption by Transparency International shows that Latvia is the second most corrupt country in the EU, while Estonia was the least corrupt among the 10 new members in the 25-member union.
According to the International Corruption Perceptions Index 2004 released on Wednesday, only Poland is more corrupt than Latvia among EU members. This year the Latvian index is four points out of maximum 10, an improvement of 0.2 points year-on-year, said Roberts Putnis, board chairman of Delna, the local branch of Transparency International.
Latvia's place on the full list of 146 countries covered by the index has not changed from 2003 but Latvia has dropped five places from 2002 to the 57th place.
Transparency International said the low index figures suggested relation between corruption, poverty and oil business. Putnis told the press that the place did not matter as much as the rating.
"This is good news that Latvia's corruption perception index has increased. But it is still very bad if we take 5 points as satisfactory level," he said.
"Latvia is the poorest EU member state and its development was largely influenced by the oil business. Latvia also is one of the most corrupted European countries. That way the relation between oil business, poverty and corruption as pointed out by Transparency International directly refers also to Latvia. This is a magic circle and you can break out of it only with clear political will to fight corruption and contribute to human development," Putnis said.
Estonia was found to be the least corrupt among the new EU member states. It rated 6 points and was placed 32nd on the list, while Lithuania's corruption perception rating was 4.6 points, putting it in 45th place.
Finland was declared the least corrupted state for the fourth year in a row, with other Nordic countries not far behind it.
Bangladesh and Haiti are at the bottom of the list.
The corruption perceptions index attempts to compare countries by perception of corruption among different groups of population. Importantly, it reflects public perception of corruption not actual level of corruption in any given country.