Prague - The good news is that bribing in the Czech Republic is down on previous years. And now the bad news: there is still plenty of it.
Transparency International (TI) just published its latest Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2007. Out of 187 countries, the Czech Republic is sharing the 41st place with Italy.
That's five positions better than its last year standing when it was sharing the 46th place with Kuwait and Lithuania.
This year, its index rating is 5.2 on a 10 to 0 scale, where 10 designates a country with almost no corruption and 0 a country with rampant corruption.
"The Czech Republic improved its position by 0.5 points thanks, according to TI, to the gradual improvement of the institutional environment," says Adriana Krnáčová, executive director of the Czech branch of the anti-corruption watchdog, in the body's press release.
Return to year Zero
The country's development during the last ten years was interesting, she thinks. The perception of the corruption in the country was getting worse for a couple of years, now. But this year it returned to its 1997 level.
"Index worsening was caused, or so we think, by the echoes of the 1990s, especially through the irresponsible approach to the transition to market economy, through the political "Opposition Contract", neglected institutional development and ignoring the public administration reforms," explains Krnáčová.
TIP: Scroll down the Infobox to learn more about the 1998 "Opposition Contract"
"Nowadays, we managed to reverse the negative trend and we are returning back to the zero point. It's an ideal opportunity to proceed to the next stage of reforms that will be limiting corruption even further," she adds.
Corruption Perceptions Index
Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is published annually by the non-governmental organization Transparency International.
The index reflects the opinion of the representatives of the business sector and experts on the corruption level among the politicians and officials in a specific country.
The 2007 CPI is a composed index using 14 different opinion polls by independent institutions done between 2006 and 2008. 180 countries are included in this year's index; to be included, at least three independent sources have to make an evaluation.
The Opposition Contract
The Opposition Contract was a political deal reached after the inconclusive parliamentary elections in 1998 between the two main parties - Civic Democrats and Social Democrats.
Its stated goal was to create a "stable political environment" where the social democratic minority cabinet was tolerated by the opposition Civic Democrats who in turn gained complete control of the senior posts in the parliament.
Critics saw this as a de facto silent grand coalition and some argued it amounted to a betrayal of voters.
Experts say the reason behind the positive development as far as corruption in the Czech Republic is concerned is a good economic situation, the country's admission to the EU, and the work of non-governmental bodies and of the civic society in general.
Next year may be different
"The EU membership brings in positive expectations for the future and thus influences the perception of the corruption in the country," the director of CERGE EI Mr Lubomír Lízal said.
Some specific facts seem to substantiate the claim: according to 'Doing Business' outlet the time necessary to start a company fell from 40 days in 2005 to the current 24 days. Overall though, there are few similar improvements.
"For instance, in the last WCY data one can see a mild deterioration of the government effectiveness or transparency. We are paying now for the pre- and post-election dances last year and one can expect this state of affairs will be mirrored in the next CPI evaluation," Mr Lízal adds.