India ranked first among the BRICS bloc of emerging economies, which also include Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa, in an index measuring corporate transparency, while China fared the worst, corruption watchdog Transparency International said, in a report published on Thursday.
The survey, based on business practices of the 100 fastest-growing multinational companies in 16 emerging economies, found Indian laws that require the publication of key financial information were the reason behind the relative transparent operations of Indian companies. Overall, publicly-listed companies performed significantly better than unlisted, privately-held and state-owned companies.
“The observed levels of transparency fall short of the standards expected of large companies aspiring to become global players,” the report said. “The fact that some companies perform well in certain aspects of the survey indicates that improvement is possible and dispels the argument often put forward by companies that disclosure puts them at a competitive disadvantage.”
India’s Tata Communications Limited (NSE:TATACOMM) topped the overall ranking, scoring 7.1 on a scale of 0 to 10, scoring high marks for its anti-corruption measures, which include factors such as bribery and whistleblower protection. The company also did well in matters of transparency such as disclosing corporate holdings and a country-wise breakdown of revenues and tax payments.
Indian companies Tata Global Beverages Ltd (NSE:TATAGlOBAL), Tata Steel Limited (NSE:TATASTEEL) and Bharti Airtel Limited (NSE:BHARTIARTL), and Malaysia’s Petronas were the other companies to make it to the top five positions in the overall ranking.
The average company score was 3.6 out of a maximum of 10 points, and only one in four of the 100 companies studied achieved an overall score of 5. Chinese firms lagged behind in every aspect surveyed by the watchdog with an overall score of 2, the report said. Among BRICS, South Africa ranked just behind India, followed by Russia, Brazil, and then China.
Publicly-listed firms scored 5.3 out of 10 in anti-corruption measures, while state-owned and private companies scored 3.0 and 2.7 respectively.
Transparency International said emerging economies needed to step up their efforts to improve corporate transparency as it is estimated that emerging economies would account for about 70 percent of global economic growth over the next few years, with India and China representing nearly 40 percent of that growth.
“The combined economic output of three leading developing countries alone – Brazil, China and India – will surpass the aggregate production of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States,” by 2020, the report said, citing data from the United Nations.