Georgia has been ranked 51st in Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) among 176 countries surveyed.
Georgia’s score in the recent survey, released on December 5 by the Berlin-based anti-corruption watchdog group, is 52.
CPI ranks countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be and it scores countries on a scale from 0 - perceived to be highly corrupt to 100 - perceived to be very clean.
Georgia ranked 64th in 2011 CIP, but the anti-corruption watchdog said that because this year’s CPI scores were calculated based on a new methodology, the new survey results were in no way comparable with those from 2011 or earlier years.
In 2012 CPI Georgia, which shares the 51st place in the ranking with the Seychelles, is ranked ahead of several EU members states, including the Czech Republic, Latvia, Slovakia, Romania, and Bulgaria, and slightly below Rwanda, Lithuania, Costa Rica, and Hungary.
“Georgia has made significant progress since 2004 in tackling different forms of corruption, including petty bribery which has effectively disappeared from Georgians’ everyday life,” Transparency International Georgia said on December 5.
“The country’s anti-corruption legislation has also improved and transparency of government activities in a number of areas has increased. The most notable examples include the introduction of an innovative electronic procurement system, e-government tools, a database with public official’s asset declarations, and efficient services provided to citizens by public service halls,” the group said.
It, however, also said that there have been “important gaps in the country’s anti-corruption framework in 2004-2012.”
“The weakness of parliament and the judiciary has undermined the democratic system of checks and balances and resulted in a dominant executive branch. A number of important government agencies, including the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Audit Office, have suffered from a lack of independence from the political leadership and have been used as political tools,” Transparency International Georgia said.
“Officials at the top of the executive branch have operated without proper accountability and oversight, creating significant opportunities for abuse of power and corruption. Some institutions led by powerful officials have been allowed to bypass existing transparency and accountability mechanisms. An imbalanced system of governance also resulted in extreme politicizing of public bodies, which was particularly evident during the last election campaign,” it said.
The anti-corruption group has called on the Georgian authorities to address these gaps by strengthening the role of parliament in overseeing other branches of government; promoting a politically independent and strong judiciary and a high level of transparency, especially in cases against former public officials; setting up an independent anti-corruption agency; ensuring professional and non-partisan operation of key government institutions, such as the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Audit Office, the National Bank, the State Procurement and Competition Agency and regulatory agencies, and by refraining from any undue political interference in the work of these entities; strengthening local government bodies and increasing their transparency and accountability by making them directly elected.