By Emil Danielyan
Armenia has made progress in curbing corruption and improving the rule of law in the past eight years, but it is still governed worse than most countries of the world, according to a World Bank survey released on Friday.
The bank’s 2006 Worldwide Governance Indicators report, which draws on extensive research conducted by other organizations, shows a marked improvement in the quality of governance in Armenia, putting it well above the ex-Soviet average.
Its authors rated more than 200 countries on six components of good governance such as the rule of law, political stability and the scale of government corruption. Accordingly, each country was assigned six “percentile ranks” indicating the percentage of nations faring worse in a particular area.
Armenia’s average rating is 41 percent, meaning that World Bank experts believe that almost 60 percent of the world’s countries boast better governance. This represents an improvement over a 29 percent rank it received in a similar survey released in 1998. It is also substantially higher than the ratings given to most other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States. The average CIS rank is a modest 24 percent.
According to the report, the Armenian authorities have made greatest headway in the “regulatory quality” category that gauges the extent and efficiency of government intervention in the economy. It also shows serious improvements in “political stability” in Armenia and the “effectiveness” of its government.
Furthermore, the report suggests that there has been a decrease in the scale of corruption in the country by noting what it regards a considerable upsurge in government efforts to combat graft. Still, it says “control of corruption” remains better in two-thirds of the other countries surveyed.
World Bank officials have long pressed the authorities in Yerevan to take meaningful action against bribery and other corrupt practices which they believe hamper Armenia’s economic development. The bank was instrumental in the Armenian government’s launch of a comprehensive anti-corruption program nearly three years ago. Local and international anti-graft watchdogs say, however, that the situation has hardly improved since then, seriously questioning the government’s commitment to tackling the problem.
Armenia ranked 88th out of 146 nations that were rated in Transparency International’s 2005 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) -- down from 82nd place it occupied in the previous global survey conducted by the Berlin-based watchdog in 2004.
The only governance-related area in Armenia where the World Bank found a negative trend since 1998 is “voice and accountability,” which has to do, among other things, with respect of human and civil rights, including the citizens’ constitutional right to elect and change government.