In the year of Panama, Malta tumbles 10 spots in corruption perceptions index

After securing highest 37th place in 2015 ranking, Malta plunges ten rungs lower this year in Transparency International index • PN warns of economic repercussions

The Panama Papers revelations in 2016 resulted in a large anti-corruption protest led by the Nationalist Party
The Panama Papers revelations in 2016 resulted in a large anti-corruption protest led by the Nationalist Party

Malta has dropped ten places in Transparency International’s corruption perceptions index, from 37 to 47th placing, its lowest level ever in the graft index.

While Malta’s score decreased by one point, moving from 56 to 55, the ranking is the lowest since the index started in 2004. Six EU states fared worse than Malta – Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

The Maltese government was embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal in the past year, when its energy minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri were revealed to have opened secret Panama companies and trusts for their own wealth management purposes and future earnings. The revelations resulted in a mass anti-corruption protest led by the Opposition Nationalist Party.

Malta drops 10 places down Corruption Perceptions Index

It is a drastic change from last year’s ranking: in 2015, Malta advanced up the ladder of the least corrupt countries of the world in joint 37th place with South Korea and the Czech Republic out of 167 countries, and had one point added to its score which at 56 makes it identical to the 2013 score.

In 2014 it ranked 43 out of 175 countries with 55 points, and in 2013 it ranked 45 out of 177 countries with 56 points.
Malta was last ranked 37th in 2010.

‘The most corrupt government in Malta’s history’

Reacting to the data, the Nationalist Party said that the drastic change from Malta’s ranking from 2015 to 2016 confirms that the current government “is the most corrupt government in Malta’s history.”

The PN added that such a ranking has negative repercussions for Malta’s economy.

“This kind of classification is not only bad publicity for Malta, but it is what investors look at when they look for a country to invest their money in,” the PN said in a statement.

Transparency International said that more countries had declined than improved in this year’s results, showing the urgent need for committed action to thwart corruption.

It said that in many countries in Europe, insufficient accountability generated a perception of quasi-impunity of political elites, and the current wave of populism seemed to enable legalisation of corruption and clientelism, feeding the extreme power of wealthy individuals that steer or own the decision making power. People who turn to populist politicians promising to upset the status quo and end corruption may only be feeding the problem, an anti-corruption watchdog group warned.

The report showed pervasive public-sector corruption around the world. Sixty-nine per cent of 176 countries scored below 50 on the index scale of 0 to 100, with 0 perceived to be highly corrupt and 100 considered “very clean”. More countries declined in the index than improved in 2016, Transparency International noted.

Denmark and New Zealand performed best in 2016, with scores of 90, followed closely by Finland (89) and Sweden (88). Somalia remained the worst performer with a score of 10, followed by South Sudan (11), North Korea (12) and Syria (13).

The United States ranked 18th on the list, down from 16th in 2016, with a perceived corruption score of 74.

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