The NGO Transparency International has published annually, since 1995, the Corruption Perceptions Index (“CPI”). Its main purpose is to assess the level of public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories by assigning scores on a scale of 0 to 100, with 0 being highly corrupt and 100 being highly ethical. The CPI is calculated from 13 separate sources from independent, internationally recognized institutions such as the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. Therefore, the CPI is considered the main indicator of corruption in the world, used as a reference by governments of public and private sectors.

The year of 2020 was marked by the COVID-19 pandemic; as a consequence, the CPI highlighted the effects of corruption on government responses to combat the new Coronavirus. Furthermore, the CPI noted that corruption not only compromised the emergency investments made towards the health system but also contributed to the weakening of democratic institutions during the pandemic.

The 2020 report found that more than half of the 180 analyzed countries, scored below 50, leaving an average score of just 43. In comparison to the 2019 CPI, about 10 countries have significantly improved their scores and, consequently, their rankings. Among them, those that have shown the greatest progress are: (i) Maldives, which showed the biggest improvement since 2019 and moved up 55 positions; (ii) Kazakhstan that moved up 19 positions; and (iii) Brazil, which improved 12 positions. On the other hand, 13 countries showed a downfall in their rankings, the most drastic being: (i) Suriname, which dropped 24 positions; (ii) Argentina, that fell12 positions; and (iii) Egypt, that dropped 11 positions. That way, while analyzing the damage caused by corruption, the CPI stressed the importance of transparency in the public sector and anti-corruption measures, especially during emergencies such as the current global scenario.

Brazil, which in the 2019 assessment, totaled 35 points and was in position 106, in the 2020 assessment, scored 38 points and achieved the 94th position in the ranking score. Even though its position has improved, Brazil is still among the countries with a negative CPI score. It is important to note that the variation in points calculated for 2019 and 2020, that is, from 35 to 38 points, is within the margin of error of the CPI survey, which is 4.1 points higher or lower. With this, it is not possible to affirm that there was in fact an improvement in the perception of corruption in Brazil compared to the CPI 2019 edition.

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