This year, Ukraine scored 33 points out of 100 in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2022. Transparency International Ukraine experts explain what these indicators mean.

Every year, the global movement Transparency International presents the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) study —the largest study that gives a comprehensive vision of the fight against corruption in the world. And every year, Ukraine awaits the update of our data in the CPI because the topic of corruption over the past decade has remained an acute one.

Over the past year, our country has added 1 point to its indicator and now ranks 116th, together with Algeria, Angola, Zambia, Mongolia, El Salvador, and the Philippines with 33 points. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Gambia, Indonesia, Malawi, Nepal, Sierra Leone are one point ahead of us, and the Dominican Republic, Kenya, and Niger have one point less than Ukraine.

Our scores can be viewed from several perspectives.

First of all, 33 points are the highest indicator of our country over the past 10 years. 

At the same time, we already had such a score two years ago — according to the results of the CPI-2020. The data of that year indicated the anti-corruption results of the “turbo mode” of the newly elected (at that time) Verkhovna Rada, the launch of the High Anti-Corruption Court, and the reboot of the NACP.

However, a year later, Ukraine “rolled back” by one point — the result, in particular, of the attempts to delay the competition for the election of the SAPO head, interference in anti-corruption investigations (for example, against the deputy head of the Presidential Office Oleh Tatarov) and, of course, the scandalous decision of the Constitutional Court, which then practically eliminated the electronic declaration and generally blocked most of the anti-corruption reform.

But 33 points today is a completely different 33 points than in 2020. After all, this increase in one point is following the most difficult year in the history of our country. How much the war has affected the perception of corruption in Ukraine, and what more the study considers — let’s find out below.

What influenced this year’s performance of Ukraine in the Corruption Perceptions Index? 

It takes at least 3 studies out of 13 for a country to join the CPI. In recent years, Ukraine’s indicator in the Index was determined by 9 studies, but in 2022 there were 8 of them. Among the data that influenced our scores was the Executive Opinion Survey in the Annual World Competitiveness Ranking for 2022.

But what do other sources that influenced the overall score of Ukraine say about us?

First of all, the score increased by 9 points according to the Executive Opinion Survey at the World Economic Forum in Davos. This annual survey has been conducted for more than 30 years, and the last one took place in April-October 2021 and covered 12,550 business executives in 124 countries.

According to the results of this study, business saw an improvement in the lower prevalence of bribes related to imports and exports, municipal services, annual tax payments, winning public contracts and licenses, and obtaining favorable court decisions.

Similarly, this survey considers responses regarding the prevalence of the provision of public funds in a particular country to companies, individuals, or groups as a result of corruption. Therefore, business also marked an improvement here. Obviously, this was facilitated both by the work of the Prozorro system before the war, and by the processes of digitalization, privatization, etc.

However, there was also a study according to which Ukraine lost points. This is the PRS Group International Country Risk Guide 2022. Since 1980, it has provided 140 countries with monthly rankings of political, economic, and financial risks important to international business.

The CPI-2022 includes monthly estimates from September 2021 to August 2022, that is, this study also considers the time after the full-scale aggression of russia in Ukraine. This is an assessment of corruption within the political system, and these indicators are most associated with existing or potential corruption in the form of excessive control, nepotism, exchange of services, secret financing of parties, or suspicious political ties between politics and business.

We can’t help but mention that thanks to MPs, in the course of the quarantine related to the COVID-19 pandemic, political parties have been exempted of the obligation to submit their financial reports for the NACP to verify them. This situation has been going on for almost three years — since the spring of 2020. And of course, this could not but affect the assessment of international analysts. By the way, during this time, the public has repeatedly called for the restoration of reporting by parties, but the authorities continue to maintain insufficient transparency.

According to the other 6 studies, the score of Ukraine remained unchanged. Although one of them, the Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index for 2022, was used last year, which determines the logical consistency of the score under it in this year’s CPI as well. With all that, the authorities should think of moving away from such stagnation in the direction of growth next year, and this can be done through the continuation of the relevant reforms, and not their stalling. Thus, there will be fewer unchanging sources.

What about the world?

 2022, of course, can be called the year of Ukraine in the world. Russia’s full-scale war against our country has affected the entire world order, and our country’s readiness to fight unjust and unprovoked aggression until the very end has shown how such evil can be resisted, including in the fight against corruption.

That is why the focus of this year’s global CPI study is corruption, conflict, and security.

 The last year’s results indicated that corruption could undermine political, social, and economic stability, and created prerequisites for organized criminal activity, even terrorism. As we can see from the example of russia, criminals in their illegal activities are frequently assisted by the complicity of corrupt officials, and if such a process drags on for years, it can lead to unprovoked aggression against other countries.

In general, the CPI-2022 shows that most countries have not made significant progress in the fight against corruption in well over 10 years. The scale of the problem is enormous: the global average remains unchanged at 43 points out of 100 for the eleventh year in a row, and more than two-thirds of countries (122) have serious problems with corruption, scoring less than 50 points. Let me remind you that the minimum score (0 points) means that corruption effectively replaces the state, and the maximum (100 points) indicates the absence of corruption.

The leaders and outsiders of the study have not changed. No country has scored 100 points. The least corrupt are Denmark (90 points), New Zealand and Finland (both countries scored 87 points). Outsiders also remained unchanged: Somalia (12 points), South Sudan, and Syria, (13 points).

The global movement Transparency International believes that political leaders must recognize the dire threat that corruption poses to national and international peace and security. That is why anti-corruption efforts must become the center of foreign and domestic policy, and these efforts must be ensured by transparency, oversight, and full participation of civil society.

Considering the terrible factors that, among other things, led to the war of russia against Ukraine, Transparency International formed universal recommendations for all governments.

  • Address the threats that corruption and illicit finance pose to peace and security as a core business of political leaders, and an integral focus of both foreign and domestic policy.
  • Reinforce checks and balances and promote separation of powers to insulate against corrupt control and ensure that no branch can consolidate authority.
  • Share and uphold the right to information, so the public knows where public spending is going and how resources are distributed, leaving this open to scrutiny from journalists and civil society. In cases of sensitive information, there must be rigorous and clear guidelines for withholding it, including in the defense sector.
  • Limit private influence by regulating lobbying and promoting open access to decision-making so that policies are determined by fair and public processes.
  • Combat transnational forms of corruption to stop kleptocrats and protect the common good. Top-scoring countries need to clamp down on corporate secrecy, foreign bribery and complicit professional enablers. They must also take advantage of new ways of working together, initiated after the russian invasion of Ukraine, to make sure that illicit assets can be effectively traced, investigated, confiscated, and returned to the victims.

As we can see, processes that may seem too internal and invisible to the world can become an impetus for reviewing the approach to combating corruption not only in our country, but throughout the world. Therefore, the main task for Ukraine and the world is to learn this lesson well, consider the mistakes and correct them in the future.