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Portugal’s war on corruption still lacking: report

Portugal’s efforts to crack down on corruption as it grapples with deep recession are being hindered by a lack of political will and poor coordination, according to a report published Monday.

The study drawn up under the auspices of the Portuguese arm of global anti-corruption group Transparency International paints a picture of widespread graft and impunity which has undermined public confidence.

“Poor coordination between various agencies, lack of specialised judicial enforcement authorities and a lack of political will to adopt a coherent strategy against corruption are the main flaws in Portugal’s anti-corruption efforts,” said National Integrity System assessment, the first on Portugal.

Transparency rates Portugal as the 18th most corrupt country in Europe and 32nd in the world, and the report said the results from the survey were worse than expected for a developed and industrialised country within the EU.

The report also pointed to the risks of corruption associated with the current austerity measures aimed at pulling Portugal out of its deep economic malaise.

The rush to undertake such policies as privatisations “can hide very shady deals”, it said, while warning that budget cuts in the justice and public administration sectors could made public officials and judges “more susceptible to pressures or bribes”.

The government is slashing spending and raising taxes to meet the terms of its 78 billion-euro ($104 billion) bailout agreed with the EU and International Monetary Fund a year ago. But the austerity has plunged the country into a deep recession.