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On numerous occasions, the former Prime Minister of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, has spoken about the corruption levels in Georgia and the success achieved by the Georgia Dream coalition government with respect to alleviating the problem. “The corruption in our country has almost been nullified even though we had elite corruption just a couple of years ago [during the office of the previous government],” stated Mr Ivanishvili.

FactCheck

took interest in this issue.

There are several indicators which assess corruption practices in public structures. We shall look through each of them and assess the situation in Georgia.

In 2006, William (Bill) Neukom founded the World Justice Project on the initiative of the American Bar Association (ABA).

The Rule of Law Index is one of the products of the World Justice Project and it describes the perception of the rule of law by citizens in various countries. The study is based upon the results of surveys involving over 100,000 households and 2,400 experts. The average assessment of a specific territorial unit is based upon 44 indicators sorted in eight categories. These categories include constraints on government powers, the absence of corruption, open government, fundamental rights, order and security, regulatory enforcement, civil justice and criminal justice. Table 1 depicts the Rule of Law Index assessments for Georgia from 2012 to 2015.

Table 1: 

Rule of Law Index (Georgia)

Year 2012-2013 2014 2015
Constraints on Government Powers 0.48 0.53 0.62
Absence of Corruption 0.77 0.71 0.73
Order and Security 0.84 0.48 0.61
Fundamental Rights 0.61 0.58 0.64
Open Government 0.47 0.85 0.83
Regulatory Enforcement 0.63 0.57 0.62
Civil Justice 0.61 0.59 0.63
Criminal Justice 0.66 0.51 0.54
Average Index 0.63 0.60 0.65
Position in the Ratings 30 31 29
Source: World Justice Project

As the table reflects, the average index assessment for Georgia in 2012-2013 was 0.63 which was the equivalent of the 30th position in the wider ratings. In 2014, the average index indicator worsened and equalled 0.6 with Georgia conceding one position in the ratings. In 2015, the indicator increased again to 0.65 which meant that Georgia moved up in the ratings to occupy the 29th

position.

It should be noted that according to the World Justice Project, the absence of the corruption indicator itself in 2012-2013 was 0.77, worsening in 2014 to 0.71 and improving again in 2015 to 0.73; however, it failed to achieve the high of 2012-2013.

At the same time, according to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) by Transparency International,

Georgia’s indicator was 52 in 2012 and worsened to 49 in 2013. The index came back to the level of 2012 in 2014 and showed no traces of change in 2015. Hence, the corruption perception level in Georgia has not improved for the past three years but it has not worsened either.

The Global Corruption Barometer is another important indicator which has published the results of its most recent study in July 2013. According to the study, only 4% of those surveyed in Georgia confirmed that they had paid bribes in the past 12 months which is quite a low level as the average indicator worldwide equalled 27% (see link

here). However, it should be noted that the 2013 study reflects the situation of 2012 and before whilst the latest data can be found in the study published by Transparency International Georgia at the beginning of May 2016.

A total of 2,032 people participated in the study conducted by the Caucasus Research Resource Centre

during March 2016 at the request of Transparency International Georgia. About 40% of those surveyed believes that the abuse of power by public servants designed to further their personal interests is widespread and this indicator has increased by 15% and 28% as compared to the data of 2015 and 2013, respectively. The situation in terms of corruption at the lower levels is quite different. In 2016, only 1% of those surveyed stated that they had paid bribes in the previous 12 months. This is similar to the results recorded in 2015 and 4% less as compared to the data of 2013.

In terms of its Tax Simplification Project in 2012 and the Georgian Investment Environment Facilitation Project in 2016, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation conducted two business environment studies (see link 1; link 2)

which were based upon the perceptions of 1,029 and 800 (respectively) respondents (owners of companies, managers, financial managers) from Georgia’s business environment. One of the aspects of this study comprises the actions of public structures perceived by businesses as being corrupt. About 0.11% (one respondent only) in 2012 and 0.13% (also one respondent) in 2016 thought that corruption was a problem in terms of business development in Georgia which is a very low indicator in itself. In 2012, about 6% stated that they had heard about such facts from others, which the study considers to be a very slight manifestation of corruption, whilst in 2016 this indicator has dropped even further to equal only 0.75% which the study assesses to be the near absence of corruption. According to the 2016 study, about 0.03% of those surveyed said that they themselves had encountered actions which they perceived as corrupt whilst the 2012 study does not offer such an indicator at all.

Conclusion According to the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project, Georgia occupied the 29th

position in the overall ratings in 2015 and the advance as compared to the ratings of 2012-2013 is only one position. At the same time, the absence of corruption is only one of eight factors influencing the overall assessment and has not, in the given case, contributed to its improvement as it had worsened as compared to the absence of corruption indicator in 2012-2013. On the other hand, the 2012-2015 changes in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index reflect that the corruption perception in Georgia has not changed in the past three years and remains at the level observed back in 2012.

According to the results of the 2013 Global Corruption Barometer study, only 4% of those surveyed stated that they had paid bribes in the previous 12 months which is quite a low indicator. According to the 2016 study by Transparency International Georgia, this trend has continued at the lower levels of public office whilst the perception index of public servants abusing their power to further their personal interests is set at 40% which marks a 15% and 28% increase as compared to 2015 and 2013, respectively.

In terms of the business environment studies conducted by the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation, only 0.11% of those surveyed in 2012 stated that corruption was a problem in the relations of businesses and budgetary organisations whilst in 2016 this indicator has gone up to just 0.13%. In the period from 2012 to 2016, the percentage of those who had heard about the fact of corruption from someone else decreased from 6% to 0.75%. According to the results of the 2012 study, only extremely rare cases of corruption were revealed whilst the 2016 results suggest that corruption is almost altogether absent in Georgia.

FactCheck concludes that Bidzina Ivanishvili’s statement that the current studies suggest a significant reduction in the corruption levels in Georgia as compared to 2012 is MOSTLY FALSE.