The latest Corruption Perceptions Index report for 2010 has just been released by Transparency International, and Jordan ranks 50th worldwide and 6th regionally, in terms of corruption perceptions. I should note, as I often do when referring to this report, that it measures perceptions and not actual cases of corruption. In other words, to quote Transparency International, “the CPI is not a tool that is suitable for trend analysis or for monitoring changes in the perceived levels of corruption over time for all countries. Year-to-year changes in a country/territoryâ€™s score can result from a change in the perceptions of a countryâ€™s performance.”
That said, according to the ranking, Jordan has dropped from its previous position of 49 in 2009. Past indexes state that in 2008 Jordan ranked 47, in 2007 it ranked 53, in 2006 it ranked 40, and in 2005 and 2004 it ranked 37. A superficial overview would suggest that perceptions regarding corruption have increased over the past five years, but again, the methodology of the index isn’t a suitable barometer. It is however interesting to note that this report is rarely quoted in local media unless there’s been an improvement in rankings. Other reports that make us look good are, of course, editorialized. On the other hand the Global Integrity Report, where Jordan ranked a “very weak” 55/100 has a rather interesting, and a bit embarrassing, list of events and causes that have been chipping away at the Kingdom’s integrity when it comes to combating corruption.
How corruption plays out in the media is probably one of the most interesting aspects of all this.
In the past year, we’ve actually seen somewhat “positive” signs that corruption is being fought in the country, with high-level cases like Khaled Shaheen and some prominent VIPs, as well as those Ministry of Agriculture employees that stole money all being tried in court. Corruption allegations facing the government entity Mawared, are also being investigated by the anti-corruption committee, specifically with regards to its business dealings in projects it oversaw, such as the Abdali project, and its alleged attempt at selling out the Medical City. Meanwhile, the government is also taking a verbally serious stance against vote-buying and selling during this election season, a stance that is still being tested and whose outcome cannot be properly determined till post elections.
However, for the most part, most of these cases were not showcased in the public arena, with most experiencing media blackouts issued by the courts. This begs the question of whether these attempts at battling corruption are genuine in the absence of any movement to create a transparent system, even with the mere presence of media exposure.
In any case, while the CPI has somewhat fluctuated for Jordan in the past few years, mainly with an upward trend, it begs the question of whether corruption is truly on the rise in the Kingdom, or if we just perceive it to be?
But hey, then again, the US doesn’t seem to be doing too well either now that it has dropped from the top 20. So who are we to complain, right?