San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica Perceived As More Corrupt

COSTA Rica has slipped in the eyesof the world regarding tendencies towardcorruption, according to the recentlyreleased Transparency InternationalPerception of Corruption Index.This year, Costa Rica’s corruption perceptionindex is 4.2 out of 10, with 10representing the highest level of transparency.This is down from 6.45 in 1997.Costa Rica also fell 10 spots in the internationalranking of least corrupt countries,from 41 to 51, out of 159 countries.However, it remains the country with thelowest amount of perceived corruption inCentral America, together with ElSalvador, and one of the lowest in LatinAmerica.The index is based on polls of businesspeople and analysts, both internationallyand locally, asked about their perceptionsof corruption levels in various countries.Costa Rica succeeded in increasing itsanti-corruption confidence levels to 4.9last year, but that was before two majorcorruption scandals implicating formerPresidents Rafael Angel Calderón (1990-1994) and Miguel Angel Rodríguez(1998-2002), among other public figures,came to public attention in October 2004,explained Transparency InternationalCosta Rica Director Roxana Salazar.These scandals created doubts amongpotential investors about Costa Rica’stransparency, she said.Costa Rica’s new law against illicitenrichment is a step in the right direction,Salazar added; however, the country mustincrease anti-corruption efforts, includingratification of the United Nations conventionagainst corruption, under considerationin the Legislative Assembly’s internationalaffairs commission.Salazar said a relationship existsbetween corruption and poverty, with thepoorest countries also having the highestrates of perceived corruption. Studiesreveal that foreign investment is lower incountries perceived to be corrupt. The fightagainst corruption should therefore be partof the efforts to end poverty, she said.Iceland ranked first internationally,with a corruption perception index of 9.7;Canada ranked 14th (8.4 index); theUnited States, 17th (7.6); Argentina, 97th(2.8); Nicaragua, 107th (2.6); Haiti, 155th(1.8); and Chad, last (1.7).The organization bases the index onpolls, rather than actual corruption cases,because it is difficult to compare corruptiondata, such as accusations, trials andconvictions, in a quantitative manner.Often such information is related to thequality of prosecutors or media in a givencountry, according to TransparencyInternational.Corruption is defined as abuse of publicpositions for private benefit – forexample, bribes accepted by public functionariesin public contracts.

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