Good news, bad news

Published: Monday | December 9, 2013 Comments 0
Daviot Kelly
Daviot Kelly

Time for a good, old-fashioned example of good news, bad news.

Good news. Jamaica is not the most corrupt country in the world (get out the party favours, vuvuzelas and confetti). Bad news: we're not exactly high on the list of countries doing well. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2013, done by Transparency International, little Jamaica ranks 83rd out of 177 countries and territories surveyed and ranked based on how corrupt their public sector is perceived to be. The ranking is measured on a scale from 0 (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean).

We share 83rd place (with a score of 38) with Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Liberia, Mongolia, Peru, Zambia and our very welcoming Caribbean neighbours Trinidad and Tobago (no wonder we can't get along). Other Caribbean neighbours like Barbados (15th with a score of 75), The Bahamas (22nd with a score of 71) and St Lucia (same rank and score as The Bahamas) are doing much better. Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia were tied for 175th at the bottom, sharing a score of eight. Yes, so-so eight!

But the overall bad news is that no country scored 100. Denmark and New Zealand both scored 91 to tie for first place. Finland and Sweden were next with 89 each. But the fact that not even one single country got the full hundred, might be disheartening to some. For me, it makes perfect sense. Nobody is perfect, so there can be no such thing as perfection in government and other such systems. But what might make persons even more disturbed is that two-thirds of the countries surveyed scored below 50.

Now we can look at this in two ways. One, that Transparency International doesn't know what it's doing and its index is about as accurate as when people thought the world would end in 2012. Each country has a Confidence Interval (CI) that reflects some of the uncertainty associated with a country's score. It is calculated by looking at the range of scores given by all the data used to calculate that country's score, so a wider interval reflects a wider variation in the data for that country. Bad news for Jamaica is our upper and lower CI numbers are pretty close. Oh dear. Of course, the other way to look at this is we can conclude that the index is right on the money and that all the countries studied are where they should be, or thereabouts.

Oh well, at least we can take comfort in three facts. First, countries like Argentina (whose football we love) and Caribbean neighbours Guyana (who's always beating us in cricket) are below us. Second, despite our shortcomings, everybody still wants to come here. And, finally, some likkle no-name countries you can't find on the map are all the way in the 100s.

So hush Jamaica, we nuh so bad.

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