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Sri Lanka has ranked 83rd among 168 countries in the 2015 annual Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which ranks countries according to the perceived level of public sector corruption. This is a marginal improvement on its 85th placed ranking in 2014.

The ranks are based on a scoring system that ranges between 0 (public sector perceived as highly corrupt) to 100 (public sector perceived as very clean). Two-thirds of the 168 countries assessed scored below 50. In 2015 Sri Lanka has scored 37 points, which marks a slight decline to the 2014 score of 38 points. This indicates that from the perspective of business people and country experts, based on data sources from independent institutions specialising in governance and business climate analysis, the perception of the extent of corruption in the Sri Lankan public sector has slightly worsened.

The press release issued by Transparency International Secretariat does highlight that “in places like Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana, citizen activists in groups and on their own worked hard to drive out the corrupt, sending a strong message that should encourage others to take decisive action in 2016”.

Asoka Obeyesekere, the Executive Director of Transparency International Sri Lanka stated that “the CPI results this year highlight the challenges Sri Lanka faces in converting anti-corruption rhetoric into an institutional framework that guarantees a cleaner, less corrupt country. The potential wider public dissemination of public servant asset declarations, the long awaited enactment of the RTI Bill and the government signing up to the Open Government Partnership (OGP) can yield dividends in 2016 if approached with a mindset that acknowledges the trust vested in public servants by Sri Lankan citizens”.

Sri Lanka is clubbed together with four other countries – Benin, China, Colombia and Liberia – all with a score of 37. Among the South Asian countries Sri Lanka ranks third below Bhutan and India. Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan ranked below Sri Lanka.

Denmark took the top spot for the 2nd year running, with Finland, Sweden and New Zealand making up the top four. North Korea and Somalia were ranked at the bottom. The biggest improvers this year are Austria, Czech Republic, Jordan and Kuwait. The biggest decliners are Brazil, Guatemala and Lesotho.

The overall CPI index has shown that people working together can succeed in the battle against corruption. This is substantiated by the fact that even though corruption is still rife globally, more countries improved their scores in the 2015 CPI than declined.

The Index, which focuses on corruption in the public sector, is conducted by Transparency International (TI), the global civil society organization leading the fight against corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by open government where the public can hold leaders to account, while a poor score is a sign of prevalent bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizen needs. The CPI is the most widely used indicator of corruption worldwide.

Transparency International calls on people everywhere to speak out against corruption

2015 showed that people working together can succeed in the battle against corruption. Although corruption is still rife globally, more countries improved their scores in the 2015 edition of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index than declined.

Overall, two-thirds of the 168 countries on the 2015 index scored below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).

Yet in places like Guatemala, Sri Lanka and Ghana, citizen activists in groups and on their own worked hard to drive out the corrupt, sending a strong message that should encourage others to take decisive action in 2016.

“Corruption can be beaten if we work together. To stamp out the abuse of power, bribery and shed light on secret deals, citizens must together tell their governments they have had enough.

“The 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index clearly shows that corruption remains a blight around the world. But 2015 was also a year when people again took to the streets to protest corruption. People across the globe sent a strong signal to those in power: it is time to tackle grand corruption,” said José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.

Grand corruption is the abuse of high-level power that benefits the few at the expense of the many, and causes serious and widespread harm to individuals and society. It often goes unpunished.

This year Transparency International is calling on all people to take action by voting at unmaskthecorrupt.org. We want to know which cases the public most believe merit urgent attention to send a message that we will take a stand against grand corruption.

Brazil was the biggest decliner in the index, falling 5 points and dropping 7 positions to a rank of 76. The unfolding Petrobras scandal brought people into the streets in 2015 and the start of judicial process may help Brazil stop corruption.

Good news stories on the fight against corruption can be found on our website here about Mongolia, here on Guatemala and here on whistleblowing and include successes from our network of more than 100 chapters.

The results

The index covers perceptions of public sector corruption in 168 countries.

Denmark took the top spot for the 2nd year running, with North Korea and Somalia the worst performers, scoring just 8 points each.

Top performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, and that are truly independent from other parts of government.

In addition to conflict and war, poor governance, weak public institutions like police and the judiciary, and a lack of independence in the media characterise the lowest ranked countries.

The big decliners in the past 4 years include Libya, Australia, Brazil, Spain and Turkey. The big improvers include Greece, Senegal and UK.

The Corruption Perceptions Index is based on expert opinions of public sector corruption. Countries’ scores can be helped by open government where the public can hold leaders to account, while a poor score is a sign of prevalent bribery, lack of punishment for corruption and public institutions that don’t respond to citizens’ needs.