The UAE has improved its ranking in the annual Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International, moving up three places from the 24th position it held in 2016 to the 21st position in 2017.
The Index, which ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption according to experts and business people, uses a scale of 0-100, where zero is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. This year, the index found that more than two-thirds of countries score below 50, with an average score of 43.
The UAE improved its score on the index from 66 in 2016 to 71 in 2017, securing its position as the best performing Arab nation in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. The UAE has improved its rank due to good and efficient management of public finances, improved public procurement, and better access to public services and infrastructure. New Zealand secured the first position on the global ranking for 2017 with its score of 89, followed by Denmark with a score of 88, and Finland with a score of 85.
The UAE was followed by Saudi Arabia, which placed 57th on the Index, however its score for 2017 remained unchanged at 49. Other countries in the GCC such as Oman and Kuwait placed 68th and 85th respectively, but witnessed a drop in their scores for 2017. Oman's score fell one point to 44, while Kuwait's score dropped two points to reach 39 in 2017. Similarly, Bahrain witnessed the biggest drop in the Index, with its score plummeting from 43 in 2016 to 36 in 2017.
The Index also showed that 19 of the 21 Arab states scored below 50, which points to certain levels of corruption in the public sector. However, a number of countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Tunisia are taking small yet positive steps towards fighting corruption and increasing transparency and integrity.
Lebanon, for example, made small strides in 2017 with the passage of the 'Access to Information Law'. The country also joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), the global standard for the good governance of oil, gas and mineral resources. In addition, last year the Lebanese parliament ratified the national budget for the first time since 2005. Tunisia, on the other hand, while advancing on some anti-corruption fronts, witnessed a setback with the adoption of a controversial reconciliation law.
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