Despite its government’s stated efforts to combat corruption, Armenia again ranked lowly in an annual global survey released by Transparency International on Wednesday.
Armenia and seven other countries, including Mexico and the Philippines, share 105th place in the Berlin-based watchdog’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) covering 176 states and territories.
The South Caucasus state ranked 129th in the previous CPI released a year go. That survey rated 183 nations.
Varuzhan Hoktanian, director of Transparency International’s Armenian branch, the Anti-Corruption Center, downplayed Armenia’s improved position in the latest rankings topped by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. He said its CPI score has actually slightly worsened over the past year.
The 2012 survey assigned Armenia a score of 34 measured on a 100-point scale, with zero indicating an extremely high degree of corruption as perceived by entrepreneurs and experts. Transparency International rated countries with 10-point scales in its previous surveys.
“The overall picture is quite sad,” Hoktanian told a news conference. “In the last few years corruption has continued to grow on the global scale and this indicator testifies to that.”
Hoktanian insisted that the scale of bribery and other corrupt practices in Armenia has not decreased in the last several years despite government pledges to step up its efforts to tackle the problem. He said separate surveys conducted by the Anti-Corruption Center show that the law-enforcement and judicial systems are regarded by Armenians as the most corrupt public institutions.
President Serzh Sarkisian has pledged to crack down on graft throughout his rule. His prime minister, Tigran Sarkisian, said last month that the president has instructed the Armenian government to take “resolute” anti-graft measures “so that we can effect changes that are tangible and visible.”
The announcement followed a series of corruption inquiries ordered by the Armenian authorities after a September 15 government meeting during which President Sarkisian denounced widespread corruption in the administration of state procurements. Several senior government officials were sacked in the following weeks amid criminal proceedings launched by the police.
Opposition leaders and other government critics have dismissed this crackdown as a publicity stunt aimed at boosting Sarkisian’s reelection chances in a presidential ballot due in February.