Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) |04 February 2023
‘Striving for strong enforcement and transparency in governance are key to improving a country’s score and rank’
Following the recent news that Seychelles has maintained its ranking in the 2022 Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), with an overall score of 70, Seychelles NATION spoke to Cheryl Dine, consultant for Transparency Initiative Seychelles, who sheds more light on the CPI and what the ranking means for Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: What is the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)?
Cheryl Dine: The CPI is an indicator that measures the perception of corruption in the public sector.
Seychelles NATION: Can you explain the methodology behind Transparency International's CPI?
Cheryl Dine: The CPI is a yearly ranking and score of countries based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. The methodology of the CPI includes data from numerous sources, including reliable organisations like the World Bank, the World Economic Forum, think tanks, companies, professionals, and civil society organisations that are combined to create the scores. The data is collected, analysed and standardised in order to determine the average of the perception of the extent of public sector corruption in each country. The score that a country receives is always between 0 and 100, with 100 representing a very clean country and 0 indicating highly corrupt.
Seychelles NATION: What is the difference between a country’s rank and its score?
Cheryl Dine: A country's rank is its position relative to the other countries in the index whereas the score indicates the results of the calculations made by the Transparency International Secretariat after the aggregation and standardisation of data from other sources to determine the level of perceived corruption in that country.
Seychelles NATION: How does the CPI compare to other corruption indices?
Cheryl Dine: The CPI is one of the most widely used corruption indices compared to other corruption indices such as the World Governance Indicator's Control of Corruption and the World Bank's Worldwide Governance Indicators. The CPI is also primarily focused on corruption in the public sector, whereas other indices of governance and political freedom may also measure factors such as political stability, freedom of the press, and rule of law.
Seychelles NATION: Why is the CPI important?
Cheryl Dine: The CPI is an important indicator of a country’s reputation in relation to corruption. It serves as a tool to advocate for anti-corruption measures that will improve local governance, which should ultimately also instil more trust in the government and a country’s legal system.
Seychelles NATION: What kind of corruption does the CPI measure?
Cheryl Dine: The CPI data sources specifically cover the following manifestations of public sector corruption:
- Misappropriation of public funds and officials abusing their public office for personal gain without consequence
- Level of legal protection for people who report cases of bribery and corruption
- Governments' ability to contain corruption in the public sector
- Excessive red tape in the public sector that may increase opportunities for corruption
- Application of meritocratic appointment procedures in the civil service
- Laws requiring public officials to disclose their finances and potential conflicts of interest
Seychelles NATION: Why is the CPI based on perceptions?
Cheryl Dine: Typically, corruption involves illegal and purposefully concealed activities that are only exposed by news stories, scandals, or legal actions. Because of this, corruption is very challenging to objectively measure. However, the data sources used by Transparency International were very carefully crafted and calibrated by professionals.
Seychelles NATION: What are some of the weaknesses of the CPI?
Cheryl Dine: One of the weaknesses of the CPI is that it can only be as accurate as the data provided. For example, if there is a lack of reliable data or there is inaccurate data, this will naturally reflect in the results. It is therefore also vulnerable to systemic biases that can affect the data being collected. However, Transparency International does take several steps to ensure that the data used in the CPI is as reliable and as accurate as possible. They utilise multiple sources of data (13 at present) and they carefully review, analyse and standardise the data before it is included in the index.
Another weakness is that the CPI merely measures the perception of corruption and not the actual level of corruption in a country. However, the better the legal protection and enforcement for the identifying, reporting and prosecuting of corrupt activity, the least corrupt a country would be perceived to be.
Seychelles NATION: What is Seychelles’ score and rank for CPI 2022?
Cheryl Dine: Seychelles has scored 70 over 100 for this year’s report and was placed 23rd in the world rankings and 1st in Sub-Saharan Africa. The score and rank has remained the same as the 2021 CPI.
Seychelles NATION: Why has Seychelles’ score and rank remained unchanged?
Cheryl Dine: It is not possible to know for certain why Seychelles’ score has remained unchanged, as there are many factors that affect a country’s score and rankings. Sometimes it takes time for changes to be reflected in the results. However, there are certainly many actions that the local government can take to improve the score and rankings in the future. For example, promulgating regulations and enacting laws designed to contain corruption, laws that ensure transparency in the finances of public officials, and adequate legal protection for informants who report corrupt activities (i.e. whistleblowers), to name a few.
Seychelles NATION: Has Seychelles’ score and rank changed in the past 5 years?
Cheryl Dine: Yes. Five years ago, in 2017, Seychelles scored 60 and was ranked 36th in the world. It has therefore moved up the scale by at least 10 points.
Seychelles NATION: What can Seychelles do to improve their score and rank even more in the next 3-5 years?
Cheryl Dine: There are several actions that can be taken in Seychelles to improve the country’s score and rank. The countries that score the highest tend to have strong enforcement and transparent democratic systems. Striving for strong enforcement and transparency in governance is hence the ultimate goal.
In practice, the media, for example, can invest in more investigative journalism training. Individual journalists can become more eager or self-motivated to investigate and critically analyse information for reporting purposes.
The Seychelles government can introduce more laws for better legal protection for people who report on corruption. For example, developing a legal framework for the protection of informants, as several European countries have done in the past two years following the EU Whistleblower Directive 2019/1937. Such a legal framework should increase people's willingness and confidence to report corrupt activity, allowing the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) and Attorney General's Office to prosecute more cases. Seychelles' future scores are thus heavily reliant on the government's commitment to act on anti-corruption measures – both to provide for such measure and to implement those measures.
As such, it is also important that more rapid progress is made towards the consolidation of a fully-fledged independent public service bureau, and immediate update of the public service orders.
Besides laws, the government can also introduce systems, such as databases, that make available key information for public scrutiny. For example, for the disclosure of public funds and assets of public officials during their time in the civil service, where the public would be given the opportunity to investigate conflicts of interest. The strengthening of transparency and accountability frameworks and scrutiny of various administrative and governance procedures is therefore imperative and needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
In addition to this, more efforts should be made to reinforce the need for a well-functioning independent judiciary and the legal industry so as to ensure that professionals remain committed to defend the rule of law and that their knowledge and skills are utilised in the best possible way. This may mean revisiting the structure of the legal professions to create more diversified options.
While these are not all that needs to be done, these are some areas that could improve Seychelles’ score in the future.