Corruption Report: Turning to Populist Leaders May Make Things Worse

WASHINGTON � An anti-corruption watchdog is highlighting a link between inequality and government corruption with the release of its annual global index, saying people are increasingly looking to populist leaders who promise to tackle corruption, but are likely to make the situation worse.

In countries with populist or autocratic leaders, we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom, and weaken the independence of the judiciary, said Jose Ugaz, chair of Transparency International, as the group released its report Wednesday. Instead of tackling crony capitalism, those leaders usually install even worse forms of corrupt systems.

The report says countries need deep-rooted systemic reforms to address growing imbalances of power and wealth. It recommends those changes include public disclosure of who owns companies and imposing sanctions against those who help move corrupt money across borders.

In too many countries, people are deprived of their most basic needs and go to bed hungry every night because of corruption, while the powerful and corrupt enjoy lavish lifestyles with impunity, Ugaz said.

Index based on surveys

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on surveys and reports of how business leaders and country experts perceive corruption in the public sector. It rates countries on a scale of 0-100, with 0 being a country that is highly corrupt and 100 being very clean.

In 2016, the report said more countries declined than improved when it came to corruption.

The highest ranked countries were Denmark and New Zealand, which each scored 90, Finland with 89 and Sweden with 88. The report said each of those countries has an open government, free press and independent judicial systems. It added that highly ranked countries in general also allow citizens to access information about how public money is spent.

Bottom of index

On the bottom of the index, Somalia ranked as the country with the most perceived corruption for the 10th consecutive year. It scored a 10, with the report noting concerns about corruption in its parliamentary elections and a presidential vote that was postponed three times.

South Sudan (11), North Korea (12) and Syria (13) were also at the bottom of the index.

Transparency International said low-ranked countries feature untrustworthy public institutions like the police and court system, basic services that are lacking because funding is misappropriated, anti-corruption laws that are ignored if they exist and people frequently faced with extortion.

The five countries that serve as the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council represent varying stages of the index, with Britain (81) among the least corrupt, followed by the United States (74) and France (69), while China (40) and Russia (29) scored as more corrupt.

Five of the 10 lowest scoring nations came from the Middle East and North Africa: Syria (13), Yemen (14), Sudan (14), Libya (14) and Iraq (17).

These countries are also inflicted with political instability, war, internal conflicts and terrorism, stressing the fact that war and conflict fuel corruption and in particular political corruption, the report says.

Protests and change

Transparency International also noted the wave of protests and in some cases changes in government that spread across the region in 2011, saying the majority of Arab countries have failed to fulfill the will of the people to build democratic systems allowing for greater transparency and accountability.

The report cited improvements in Tunisia (41), saying it adopted a national anti-corruption strategy and a law governing access to information.

For the Asia-Pacific region, the report listed 19 of 30 countries in the bottom half of the index, blaming the low scores on unaccountable governments, a lack of oversight and corruption scandals that have called into question trust in government. It noted improvements in Afghanistan, which still ranks very low with a 15, but has nearly doubled its score since 2013.

Transparency International said the main stories for the Asia-Pacific have yet to fully play out, with the new president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte relying extensively on anti-corruption rhetoric during his campaign, but also attacking media and using intimidation that could affect democratic institutions. The group noted concerns linked to graft allegations against Malaysia’s prime minister and the impeachment for corruption of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the report highlights the improvements of Cape Verde (59) and Sao Tome and Principe (46), with each country holding clean elections in 2016, and Sao Tome and Principe carrying out a smooth transition of power. The report also cited Ghana (43) among a group of six countries in the region that significantly declined from 2015 to 2016, saying corruption there led to citizens voting out an incumbent president for the first time in the country’s history.

Source: Voice of America

IMImobile adds new chatbot, push notification and digital customer engagement capabilities

LONDON, Jan. 24, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — IMImobile, a cloud communications software and solutions provider that helps companies use mobile and digital technologies to engage with customers, today announces that it has added new digital customer engagement capabilities to IMIdigital; its content management and service delivery platform. This comes on the back of its recently […]

Bahrainis can see more of Dubai with Emirates’ exclusive deals

To help globetrotters kick off their 2017 travel plans, Emirates (www.Emirates.com) is launching special offers for trips to Dubai. For a limited time, each ticket purchased on www.Emirates.com will include complimentary tickets to Dubai Parks and Resorts � the Middle East’s largest integrated theme park destination.

Flight bookings have to be made between 22 January to 29 January 2017 for travel between 1 February and 31 March 2017.

Dubai’s year-round sunshine, world-class shopping, stunning beaches and iconic buildings keep travellers returning time and time again. Whether it’s a first visit or a return trip, there is always something new to explore � from the latest theme parks to the finest restaurants. Emirates’ special deal offers great value and an even bigger incentive to visit Dubai.

Dubai has seen the addition of several new attractions in the last year. Among the latest must-see places in the dynamic city are Dubai Parks and Resorts which features three theme parks: Bollywood Parkstrade; Dubai, MOTIONGATEtrade; Dubai, as well as the region’s first LEGOLANDreg; Park and LEGOLANDreg; Water Park. The entire destination is connected by Riverlandtrade; Dubai � a retail and dining destination at the heart of Dubai Parks and Resorts which also features Lapitatrade; Hotel, a Polynesian themed family hotel part of the Marriott Autographreg; Collection.

MOTIONGATEtrade; Dubai is the Middle East’s largest Hollywood-inspired theme park, bringing blockbuster movies to life with rides, attractions and entertainment from three of the largest and most successful motion picture studios in Hollywood � DreamWorks Animation, Columbia Pictures and Lionsgate.

Bollywood Parkstrade; Dubai is the first park of its kind in the world and a must-visit for Bollywood fans, inspired by the greatest Bollywood blockbusters, it features five zones with interactive rides and multimedia theatre shows.

Families with children age 2-12 can enjoy interactive fun at LEGOLANDreg; Dubai and LEGOLANDreg; Water Park with over 60 LEGOreg; themed rides and water rides, shows, building experiences and attractions.

Emirates’ hub in Dubai also provides direct connection to over 150 cities in 80 countries. Globalistas can explore the airline’s latest destinations launched in 2016: Cebu and Clark in the Philippines, Yinchuan and Zhengzhou in China, Yangon in Myanmar, Hanoi in Vietnam and Fort Lauderdale in the US.

Emirates offersexcellent onboard service from an international cabin crew who come from 135 nationalities and speak over 60 languages. With lie-flat beds in Business Class, the largest in-seat screens in the world in Economy class at 13.3 inches and more than 2,500 channels of on-demand entertainment on the award-winning inflight entertainment system, ice Digital Widescreen, Emirates provides quality products and value for money.

Those travelling with children can take advantage of the extensive family offering from priority boarding across all airports to special kid’s meals, dedicated children’s entertainment on ice and exclusive toys and Lonely Planet Kids activity bags on board. Emirates is the only airline to operate an all Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 fleet, further elevating the passenger experience on board through a modern, state-of-the-art wide-body fleet.

For more information on Emirates, including how to book flights and a complete list of terms and conditions for this offer, visit http://APO.af/3VJ7BG.

*local terms and conditions apply

SOurce:The Emirates Group.