Updated at 10.45am with PN statement

Malta’s position in the Corruption Perception Index has dropped 10 places - from 37 to 47 - according to the latest Transparency International Report.

Malta's score moved down by one point, moving from 56 to 55, and the ranking is the lowest since the index started in 2004. Six EU states fare worse than Malta - Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia.

Transparency International said that more countries had declined than improved in this year's results, showing the urgent need for committed action to thwart corruption.

It said that in many countries in Europe, insufficient accountability generated a perception of quasi-impunity of political elites, and the current wave of populism seemed to enable legalisation of corruption and clientelism, feeding the extreme power of wealthy individuals that steer or own the decision making power. People who turn to populist politicians promising to upset the status quo and end corruption may only be feeding the problem, an anti-corruption watchdog group warned.

The report showed pervasive public-sector corruption around the world. Sixty-nine per cent of 176 countries scored below 50 on the index scale of 0 to 100, with 0 perceived to be highly corrupt and 100 considered "very clean." More countries declined in the index than improved in 2016, Transparency International noted.

Denmark and New Zealand performed best in 2016, with scores of 90, followed closely by Finland (89) and Sweden (88). Somalia remained the worst performer with a score of 10, followed by South Sudan (11), North Korea (12) and Syria (13).

The United States ranked 18th on the list, down from 16th in 2016, with a perceived corruption score of 74.

The Maltese government has been embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal in the past year, amid other reports of lack of transparency. 

The most corrupt government in Malta's history - PN

In a statement, the Nationalist Party said the index confirmed that the government led by Joseph Muscat was the most corrupt in Malta's history.

Malta's classification, the PN said, was not just a bad advertisement for the country but also a classification that anyone who wanted to invest in the country looked at. This was of concern for the economic sector.

More than ever before, the country needed a different policy which again cleared the country's name. This could only be done by PN leader Simon Busuttil who had already committed himself to clean up the political system once and for all.

The Prime Minister, on the other hand, kept only one of all the promises he made - to be the best in Europe - in corruption.

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