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Global Corruption Barometer

Transparency International just released their 2006 Global Corruption Barometer. This is slightly different from the Corruption Perceptions Index released in November. The Index draws on data from experts in the field in each of the 150 countries surveyed, as well as public surveys. The Barometer is based exclusively on a public survey commissioned by TI and carried out in 60 countries. The aim is to understand how ordinary citizens perceive corruption and the impact of corruption in their own lives, and in public and political life. This year for the first time Albania was included in the GCB and the results, as with previous reports and surveys I have mentioned, is not encouraging.

66% of those surveyed in Albania claimed to have paid bribes in the last 12 months. Of the other countries in the survey only Cameroon comes close to this figure with 60%. Only two other countries score higher than 40%.

Strangely, though, Albanians seem to be reasonably happy with the government's anti-corruption efforts. 33% think that the government is effective in fighting corruption, while 36% feel it is ineffective and 19% do not believe it fights corruption at all.

While this looks like a poor result these are better figures than many other countries achieve. They are the best for the region and are better than the those for most EU countries. It is difficult to understand how people can be relatively positive about the government's anti-corruption activities when so many of them routinely experience corruption through having to pay bribes.

When asked about perceptions of corruption in specific sectors,
the survey confirmed the data from an earlier survey carried out by the IDRA which identified the health care sector as the most corrupt. On a scale of 1 to 5 with one being the best and 5 the worst, Albanians gave the health care system 4.1. The police and the legal system also scored poorly with 3.8 each. Yet, overall, Albania compared well to the rest of the region. The Albanian figures were lower than those for Bulgaria and comparable to those of Romania - two soon to be EU members.

Once more the disparity between the experience of having to pay bribes and the relatively positive perceptions of the extent of corruption across different sectors is striking.

My best guess is that the data reflect both past experience - perhaps the current government is running an effective anti-corruption campaign compared to previous governments - and low expectations -other countries, and especially more developed countries expect better of their governments and are more inclined to be critical of their failures.

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