The imminent release of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (Dec 3) is as good an occasion to think/write about corruption in Mongolia as any.
Of course, it is especially important in the context of the CPI to emphasize that this is an attempt at measuring perception of corruption, not corruption itself. Likewise, much of what I can comment on is my perception of corruption, not acts of corruption.
Hopes for the DP
With the parliamentary election victory in 2012 and the re-election of President Elbegdorj in 2013, there was some reasonably hope that corruption would be addressed in a more serious way. Most importantly, the DP’s campaign emphasis on “clean government” promised an attack on corruption “at the top”, rather than the petty corruption that may be a feature of daily life. Simply out of the hope that corruption would be addressed and a (perhaps gullible) belief in DP campaign rhetoric, I had high hopes for the DP government in this regard.
The greatest achievements in the fight against corruption have been the persecution of former president Enkhbayar (to whatever extent this may have been politically motivated in its timing, Enkhbayar has been pardoned since then, of course), and some of the greater specificity and enforcement of conflict-of-interest legislation and judicial reforms that have been pushed by Minister of Justice Temuujin with the apparent strong support of Pres Elbegdorj.
A number of foreign and domestic companies (South Gobi, MIAT, etc.) have been or under investigation, suggesting that there’s some “cleaning of house” in this regard as well.
However, it is also noticeable, that the current government has not been particularly active in investigating or stamping out corruption in its own ranks. Most prominent is the case of S Bayartsogt here who was revealed to hold funds off-shore by an international investigation conducted under the auspices of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The context of this case suggests that it may have been naiveté more than anything that led to these off-shore accounts, but the fact that Bayartsogt has clung to his seat in parliament with the apparent support of the DP leadership certainly doesn’t send a strong signal.
Enforcement vs. Perception
When it comes to the perception of corruption in Mongolia then, one of the main questions is whether the public sees stepped-up enforcement of anti-corruption and conflict-of-interest measures (even when it appears to be somewhat one-sided) as a positive step that is likely to reduce corruption, or as evidence for the endemic nature of corruption. The sensationalistic reporting of corruption-related rumours in Mongolia is likely to stoke the flames of perceptions of the endemic nature of corruption further.
I do not have a strong sense of which direction perceptions might be moving in this regard.
CPI Methodology and Likely Implications for the 2013 Ranking
The Corruption Perception Index is calculated as an index of a number of (standardized) other indicators coupled with survey information produced by Transparency International itself. It involves neither any expert judgement, nor a measure of portrayals of corruption in the media.
To think about Mongolia’s 2013 score, I looked at the component indicators to get a sense of whether the score might go up and down. More than a sense is not possible as the exact weighting of different scores is not known (as far as I can tell). Also, note that any prediction would hold (if at all) for the score, not for the ranking which is obviously relative to other countries’ ranking.
For the 2012 CPI, the following sources are listed as sources:
- African Development Bank Governance Ratings 2011
- Bertelsmann Foundation Sustainable Governance Indicators 2011
- Bertelsmann Foundation Transformation Index 2012
- Economist Intelligence Unit Country Risk Ratings
- Freedom House Nations in Transit 2012
- Global Insight Country Risk Ratings
- IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2012
- Political and Economic Risk Consultancy Asian Intelligence 2012
- Political Risk Services International Country Risk Guide
- Transparency International Bribe Payers Survey 2011
- World Bank – Country Policy and Institutional Assessment 2011
- World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) 2012
- World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2012
Obviously, only some of these are relevant to/available for Mongolia: 3 BF (BTI), 9 ICRG, 11 WB, 12 WEF , 13 WJP, 4 EIU, 6 GI. Presumably, updated versions of these will be used for the 2013 index.
BTI: steady (there were 2008, 2012 rankings, not sure which would have been used for 2012 CPI)
ICRG: As far as I can tell the results are proprietary, so I have no information on the trend for Mongolia.
WB: For 2011, the CPR for Mongolia was 3.49. This was up significantly from 2.84 in 2010. I imagine that it is Mongolia’s Economic Management scores that are driving these shifts. Prominently, this includes macroecon mgt, fiscal, and debt policy. Mongolia’s recent struggles in this regard are unlikely to have entered any new ratings if such ratings are available (2011 remains the most recent on the WB website).
WEF: Details of the Global Competitiveness Report, including results of the Executive Survey, do not seem to be publicly available.
WJP: Data is really difficult to compare across different years.
EIU: These ratings are proprietary.
GI: These ratings are proprietary.
Bottom line: I find it very difficult to figure out what data exactly may be flowing into the score ahead of time, and therefore am unable to offer a prediction of what Mongolia’s score is likely to be.