Yemen is most corrupt in Arab worldRotting to the core? [Archives:2004/798/Front Page]

December 13 2004

Yemen, along with Sudan and Iraq, has topped the list of the most corrupted Arab countries for the year 2004.
Ranked with 2.4 in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transpareny International, Yemen has fallen from 88th position last year (with 2.6 CPI) to 112th this year.
This has confirmed fears of the World Bank and other international organizations and experts in the fact that Yemen is quickly and rapidly becoming more corrupt by the year.

Corruption on the rise
According to this index, Yemen is in a serious condition concering its corruption level and needs to act accordingly for the sake of saving the country's economic developmental program from total collapse.
A score of 5.0 is the number Transparency International considers the borderline figure distinguishing countries that do and do not have a serious corruption problem. Having said so, the score of Yemen (2.4) is even less than half that threshhold, showing a great need to look at its governance policies.
In fact, Yemen is only 1.0 ahead of the most corrupted country in the world, Haiti, which attained 1.4 CPI.
If this increase in corruption continues, in less than 5 years, Yemen could reach to a level of negative economic growth, which could sabotage and hinder any future efforts to revive the country's deteriorating economy.
This comes at a time when Yemeni authorities have promised to enhance law enforcement regulations and to have stricter means to control the flow of public funds.
But some steps that the government had taken to help boost the public budget, such as the sales tax of 10 per cent, has backfired because of the discouragement of investments and direct negative implications on the poor segment of the community, which constitutes the majority of Yemeni citizens.

Corruption at varoius levels
Corruption inYemen has spread out to virtually all public and most private sectors in the country.
With lack of credibility of governmental audit units, the level of corruption has not decreased, and this has led to frustration by international donors and economic experts who have been trying hard to work out new adjusted forumals to the economic reform package that was introduced in the 1990s.
Basically, core reform issues in Yemen have been singled out and structural impediments have prevented the country's economic order from a structural transformation towards a market economy.
Among the obstacles toward reform is the unwillingness or inability of the government to implement the straight-forward reform steps proposed by the World Bank, such as lifting subsidies on oil products and reducing customs.

Serious alarm
The Yemeni government has been seriously and constantly warned by several international and local organizations and economists that serious steps need to be taken urgently to stop the deteriorating transparency and accountability in the government.
With an increasing number of donor-funded projects failing because of corruption, and with alarming rates of embezzled amounts of money disappearing from the general annual budget, the country's economic indicators of growth have fallen short of expectations.
“The only reason why Yemen was able to produce a symbolic and insufficient rate of economic growth is the increase in oil prices,” an economic expert said.
“This growth is not even close to expectations and does not compensate for the annual increase of 3.4% in population.”

Other countries better
According to the annual survey by the Berlin-based organization Transparency International, the world's least corrupt country is Finland and its most corrupt countries are Bangladesh and Haiti.
The index defines corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain, and measures the degree to which corruption is perceived to exist among a country's public officials and politicians.
It is a composite index, drawing on 17 surveys from 13 independent institutions, which gathered the opinions of business people and country analysts. Because of the absence of reliable data, only 146 of the world's countries are included in the survey. The scores range from 10 (squeaky clean) to zero (highly corrupt).
Even though the majority of Arab countries maintained a steady corruption level, a number have in fact improved their rating since the 2003 index.
At the top of those Arab countries are Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.