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(photo credit: AP)
The degree of corruption in the public sector has decreased over the past year, according to the perceptions of the Israeli public, the Israeli branch of Transparency International (TI) announced on Thursday.
At the same time, Israel has improved its ranking among 180 countries which measured their Corruption Perceptions Index (PCI) in 2007. It has moved up from 34th to 30th place (the country with the highest index, i.e., the least corrupt country, ranks first and the most corrupt country last.) Israel's index this year rose to 6.1 compared with 5.9 last year.
On the other hand, its index is much lower than the three top-ranking countries, Denmark, Finland and New Zealand, all of which scored 9.4 points.
Transparency International is a non-profit organization which examines up to 14 opinion polls dealing with the public's perception of corruption in their country. It then creates a composite index, what it calls "a poll of polls," to determine the public's perception of each country's level of corruption. The CPI "draws on corruption-related data from expert and business surveys carried out by a variety of independent and reputable institutions," the non-profit organization explained.
The surveys focus on corruption in the public sector and define corruption as the abuse of public office for private gain. "The surveys used in compiling the CPI ask questions that relate to the misuse of public power for private benefit, for example bribery of public officials, kickbacks in public procurement, embezzlement of public funds or questions that probe the strength of anti-corruption policies, thereby encompassing both administrative and political corruption," the organization wrote.
Despite the advances in Israel's statistics this year, TI Israel director-general Galia Saguy warned, "It was not a significant improvement and it is apparent that we have much work ahead of us." She said it would help the fight against corruption if Israel were to sign the UN Covenant to Fight Corruption and make the Israeli public more aware of the issue.
Only 46 countries achieved an index of 5 or more points in this year's survey. Somalia finished last with 1.4 points. Russia was ranked 143rd with and index of 2.3. Canada ranked 7th with a 9 index, the UK ranked 12 at 8.4 and the US ranked 20th at 7.2
The chairman of TI in Israel, Prof. Yosef Gross, said the index had important ramifications because many countries and institutions determine the level of economic involvement they were prepared to have with other countries according to that country's index score.