SINGAPORE: Singapore has been placed seventh in an annual ranking of economies that are considered least corrupt in 2016, moving up a notch from eighth position in 2015.
According to Transparency International's (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index released on Wednesday (Jan 25), Singapore scored 84 for the year 2016. The score runs from a scale of zero, which is highly corrupt, to 100, which is very clean.
The index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption worldwide, with country experts and business people giving their rating.
The latest report ranks 176 economies. Within the Asia Pacific region, Singapore was second only to New Zealand despite dropping one point from 2015. New Zealand is tied with Denmark for top place worldwide, with a score of 90. The next highest scores in the Asia Pacific region were given to Australia (79), Hong Kong (77) and Japan (72).
Nineteen out of the 30 Asia Pacific economies included in the index scored 40 or less out of 100.
In a statement, the director of the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) of Singapore Wong Hong Kuan said the results were a testament to "Singapore’s continued vigilance, commitment and zero-tolerance" in its fight against corruption.
"The CPIB will continue to battle corruption without fear or favour so as to uphold the highest level of integrity and incorruptibility in Singapore," he added.
The countries with the lowest scores on the index were Somalia (10), South Sudan (11) and North Korea (12).
According to TI, the lower-ranked countries are "plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary" and even where anti-corruption laws are on the books, they're often skirted or ignored in practice
Meanwhile, higher-ranked economies in the index tended to have "higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems," said TI.
However, the global coalition cautioned that high-scoring countries cannot afford to be complacent as they are not immune to closed-door deals, conflicts of interest, illicit finance, and patchy law enforcement that could distort public policy and exacerbate corruption at home and abroad.