Survey suggests link between corruption, coronavirus response

BERLIN (AP) – Countries with the least corruption have been best positioned to weather the health and economic challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a closely-watched annual study released yesterday by an anti-graft organisation.

Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index, which measures the perception of public sector corruption according to experts, concluded that countries that performed well invested more in healthcare, were “better able to provide universal health coverage and are less likely to violate democratic norms”.

“COVID-19 is not just a health and economic crisis,” said Transparency head Delia Ferreira Rubio. “It is a corruption crisis – and one that we are currently failing to manage.”

This year’s index showed the United States (US)hitting a new low amid a steady decline under the presidency of Donald Trump, with a score of 67 on a scale where 0 is “highly corrupt” and 100 is “very clean”. That still put the US 25th on the list in a tie with Chile, but behind many other western democracies. It dropped from scores of 69 in 2019, 71 in 2018 and 75 in 2017, and was down to the lowest level since figures for comparison have been available.

“In addition to alleged conflicts of interest and abuse of office at the highest level, in 2020 weak oversight of the USD1 trillion COVID-19 relief package raised serious concerns and marked a retreat from longstanding democratic norms promoting accountable government,” said the report by Transparency, which is based in Berlin.