Transparency International releases its corruption index

  • 2000-09-21
RIGA (BNS) - Latvia ranks 57th of 90 countries in terms of corruption, according to the annual evaluation released last week by Transparency International.

Delna, the Latvian chapter of the international government watchdog, reported Latvia had only been able to improve its rating by one place as compared to last year's index, which is compiled from a survey of businessmen and others on their perception of corruption.

Latvia outpaced Lithuania and Estonia, which this year rank as 43rd and 27th, respectively. At the same time, corruption in Latvia is not as wide spread as in Russia, which shares the 82nd place with Kenya.

Latvia tied with Zambia.

Transparency International admits the survey measures only perception and is not analytical.

Latvian Prime Minister Andris Berzins agreed that there is corruption in Latvia and the present government has set corruption combating as one of its chief goals when it started working, according to spokesman Arnis Lapins.

"By making such an index, of course, the principles and criteria of its formation should be taken into account, but the fact that there is corruption in Latvia can not be denied," said Lapins.

Finland and Denmark received the highest evaluation while third place was shared by New Zealand and Sweden.

Delna board chairwoman Inese Voika in a news conference Sept. 13, voiced concerns about the attitude of state representatives to the corruption assessment. Instead of trying to clear out the situation they often simply dismiss the survey's accuracy, she said.

But although the index chiefly characterizes the attitude by residents in opinion polls, Latvia nevertheless for several years has been among the countries where the assessment is lowest.

"We are somewhere in the middle among the countries where corruption is a rather important problem," said Delna board member Pauls Raudseps.

In Latvia the respondents regarded as corruption numerous negative glitches in the administrative system - slow, low-quality service and queuing at various institutions. In Estonia, however, there is a trend more to regard bribes as corruption and their opinion could be more related to a "self-assessment of the nation," explained Voika.

Many Latvians believe the traffic police are corrupt, while Estonians don't.

The difference with Lithuania meanwhile was regarded by Delna's representatives as rather insignificant.

The research lists separately two types of corruption - administrative corruption and corruption affecting decisions of national importance.

Administrative corruption in Latvia has been assessed as one of the lowest while in Lithuania and Estonia it is seen as being slightly higher.