Phnom Penh, 25 January 2022 – Transparency International Secretariat in Berlin, Germany, released the results of the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) today. With a score of 23, Cambodia gains two points compared to last year (21), and is ranked 157th globally. While this might be viewed as a positive sign, the score remains low, indicating that Cambodia continues to lag significantly far behind other countries in both Asia and the world.
In the annual Corruption Perceptions Index, Cambodia scores 23 out of a maximum possible score of 100, up from a score of 21 it received in 2020. With this score, the country is ranked 157th among 180 countries and territories assessed. From a regional perspective, Cambodia continues to occupy the third lowest spot in the Asia Pacific, coming above only Afghanistan and North Korea, and the lowest spot in the ASEAN region. The results obtained by other ASEAN countries have been mixed. Singapore continued to be ranked among the top 10 cleanest countries globally, with the same score (85), tying it at fourth place with Sweden and Norway. Some countries in the region see a decline in scores compared to the previous year: Malaysia (down from 51 to 48), Thailand (36 to 35), and the Philippines (34 to 33). Others see an improvement: Vietnam (up from 36 to 39), Indonesia (37 to 38), and Lao PDR (29 to 30). Only Myanmar’s score remains unchanged (28).
Cambodia’s CPI results reflect the country’s ongoing commitments to improve public financial management, particularly fiscal transparency and resource mobilisation; reform public administration, including the promotion of e-government; and manage and respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nevertheless, a TI Cambodia’s analysis of the sources that determine Cambodia’s CPI results — including The Varieties of Democracy Report, World Justice Project Rule of Law Index, and World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment — indicates that Cambodia’s performance has not improved when it comes to efforts to advance democracy, the rule of law, and the quality of policies and institutional frameworks that support sustainable and inclusive growth.
Speaking of the country’s performance on the CPI 2021, Transparency International Cambodia’s Executive Director Pech Pisey said, “TI Cambodia applauds the government’s ongoing efforts to protect the public’s health, minimise the social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, and improve public services through the reduction of petty corruption. However, the low CPI score indicates that governance, in general, and public institutions, in particular, continue to be heavily compromised, while grand corruption remains Cambodia’s biggest challenge. Greater political will and bolder efforts, therefore, are sorely needed in order to improve this situation. Furthermore, we should remember that the CPI is often used by high-quality foreign investors to guide them in taking investment decisions in a country. This is even more critical in the context of economic recovery in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis”.
Globally, the 2021 CPI shows that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide, with 86 per cent of countries making little to no progress in tackling corruption in the last 10 years. The CPI global average continues to be unchanged at 43 for the tenth year in a row, and two-thirds of countries score below 50, indicating stalled government efforts to tackle the root causes of corruption. The data shows that despite some progress, most countries still fail to tackle corruption effectively. By regional comparisons, the highest scoring region is Western Europe and the European Union with an average score of 66. The lowest scoring regions are Sub-Saharan Africa (33) and Eastern Europe and Central Asia (36). The Asia Pacific remains an average score of 45.
Analysis of the results also reveals that countries violate civil liberties consistently score lower on the CPI. According to the findings, the top countries on the index also rank in the top in the world on the Democracy Index civil liberties score while countries rank at the bottle of the CPI are also ranked last in civil liberties. Complacency in fighting corruption exacerbates human rights abuses and undermines democracy, setting off a vicious spiral. As these rights and freedoms erode and democracy declines, authoritarianism takes its place, contributing to even higher levels of corruption.
Pisey added, “Cambodia’s low CPI ranking suggests that the country needs to double its efforts to improve democratic governance, strengthen the rule of law, and expand civic and political space as well as freedom of expression in accordance with Chapter III, Articles 41 and 42 of the Cambodia’s Constitution”.
To reduce corruption, TI Cambodia once again calls on the government to step up its reform agendas by:
- Uphold the rights needed to hold power to account. The government should end restrictions on freedoms of expression, association and assembly and ensure justice for crimes against human rights defenders must also be an urgent priority.
- Restore and strengthen institutional checks on power. Public oversight bodies such as anti-corruption agencies and audit institutions need to be independent, well-resourced and empowered to detect and sanction wrongdoings. Parliaments and the courts must be independent and also be able to prevent executive overreach.
- Amend/adopt anti-corruption legislations/provisions and ensure that it meets international standards and practices. It includes the amendments of a number of articles in the Anti-Corruption Law, especially those concerning asset declaration and malicious or false reports and adopting the draft laws on access to information and on protection of reporting persons, witnesses, experts and victims and the draft of code of conduct for public officials.
- Promote fair competition and better level playing field for the private sector including promoting corporate ownership transparency, advancing transparency in public procurement and promoting equal compliance.
TI Cambodia is committed and stands ready to engage with all relevant stakeholders to help implement key reform agendas in order to promote greater transparency, accountability and the rule of law in the country.
About the Corruption Perceptions Index
First established in 1995, the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is a leading and widely used composite index that ranks countries and territories from around the globe based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be, from a scale of 0 (very corrupt) to 100 (very clean). It aggregates data from a number of different reputable sources that provide perceptions of business people and in-country experts of the level of corruption in the public sector.
The 2021 CPI ranks 180 countries and territories, drawing on up to 13 surveys covering expert assessments and views of business people. In the case of Cambodia, eight sources were used – namely:
- World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey 2020
- Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2021
- Global Insight Country Risk Ratings 2020
- Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Service 2020
- The Varieties of Democracy 2021
- World Justice Project Rule of Law Index Expert Survey 2021
- Bertelsmann Stiftung Transformation Index 2022
- World Bank Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2020
Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
Pech Pisey, Executive Director of Transparency International Cambodia, (+855) 89 972 620, firstname.lastname@example.org
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