The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

TI and other corruption indexes

Al Masry Al Youm yesterday carried a nice photo series on its (print only) back page: Someone with a camera at hand observed a police officer stealing fuel out of one of the dark-blue police cars (“boks�). He then infuses it into a private car (probably his).

This rather amusing example ranks at the very bottom of the misuse of public funds (or materials), which is wide-spread in Egypt, as Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index 2006, which was released two days ago, suggests once more. Egypt ranks 70th, with a score of only 3.3 out of 10 (last year it was 3.4).

Highest-ranking country in the Arab world is Qatar with a score of 6.0, the lowest is Iraq with 1.9.

I think corruption is still the best example for why economic reform can’t be sustainable without political reform. Countries with wide-spread corruption attract much less foreign investment, and innovative companies have lesser chances to gain grounds against the established ones. But in Egypt, corruption is too important for the regime to stay in power, so the fight against corruption will always serve only its own interests. So, Egypt just came in 165th on the World Bank’s annual “Ease of doing business� ranking.

Speaking of cars and corruption: The US scholars Ray Fisman and Edward Miguel published a study in which they draw a correlation between the amount of parking fines of foreign diplomats accredited at the UN in New York and the level of corruption in their home countries. In other words: ‘show me where you park, and I tell you how corrupt your home country is’.

Here is the link to the study (pdf-file): Cultures of Corruption: Evidence from Diplomatic Parking Tickets

Results: First Kuwait, second Egypt.