Portugal still suffers from high corruption levels

Complicated laws full of loopholes, rampant bureaucracy and a slow and inefficient legal system are all contributing towards a situation of chronic corruption in Portugal.

According to Transparency International (TI), Portugal came in 32nd position out of 178 countries analysed – better than last year when it came 35th.

In the non-governmental organisation’s annual report, called Index for the ‘Perception of Corruption (IPC) 2010’, Portugal remained one of the most corrupt countries in Western Europe.

Hermetic laws, a justice system that doesn’t work and poor results in the fight against corruption are all reasons why, according to TI, Portugal is so high up in the ranking.

According to Paulo Morais, TI’s Portuguese representative, “Portugal has got worse overall since 2000 and the devil lies in the confusing legislation in Portugal that, in itself, encourages corruption.”

Laws were complicated, contradictory and full of rules that no one understood, while they gave an unlimited and arbitrary power to those in Government and administration.

Paulo Morais added that the justice system “didn’t work” because there wasn’t “an up-to-date system to fight corruption.”

In the global ranking, Spain was less corrupt than Portugal while Turkey, Greece and Italy were more corrupt.

A Portuguese contact group for Transparency International, Transparência e Integridade, Associação Cívica (TIAC), was launched in Lisbon in September.

TIAC’s mission is to contribute towards to the strengthening of civil society and improving the quality of public and private sector governance in Portugal by promoting transparency, integrity and accountability.

Some of its main priorities will be raising awareness of the damaging impact of corruption and empowering and encouraging citizens to participate in the fight against it.

The launch of TIAC is timely following a number of high profile corruption cases in Portugal over the past few years in areas including defence contracts, suspected planning permission irregularities involving retail parks, sport bribery scandals and central and local government scams. Chris Graeme