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Ranmali Fernando, Oversees PINSP, the Programme run through Transparency International, Berlin, for the four Pacific TI Chapters in Fiji, PNG, the Solomons and Vanuatu
By Renmali Fernando, Development Manager (Governance, Law & Justice, and Leadership), NZ Aid Programme, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Reprinted from the Transparency Times, April 2013.
The New Zealand Government is focussed on achieving tangible results that make a positive difference to people's lives. The mission of the New Zealand Aid Programme, managed by the International Development Group within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is "sustainable development in developing countries, in order to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world".
As New Zealand is a Pacific nation with close historical, cultural and people to people links with Pacific Island Countries, we are in a unique position to play a significant role in improving the circumstances of Pacific people and an increased proportion of aid will be directed to the Pacific, in order to contribute to securing the long-term prosperity and viability of countries in the region.
Development challenges are complex and so are the solutions. New Zealand recognises that broad-based sustainable economic development is a very important means to achieve development goals and we intend to increase our investment in it. For this investment to pay off there must also be progress in other areas. There are clear inter-dependencies between economic development, education, health, governance, environment and security.
For this reason, the New Zealand Aid Programme is guided by five priority themes:
Sustainable economic development requires the primacy of the rule of law, maintained through an accessible, impartial and effective legal system. New Zealand has comparative advantage in judicial expertise, community policing, peace building support, and a longstanding reputation in democratic governance, and the New Zealand Aid Programme draws on New Zealand's comparative advantages to add the most value to addressing our partners' needs. For instance, New Zealand is currently tied for first place with Denmark and Finland in the 2012 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index with a score of 90, as the most corruption free country in the world. Strong access to information systems and rules governing the behaviour of those in public positions helped us to secure this high rating.
However, the 2012 TI ratings highlight that addressing corruption continues to be a challenge for societies around the world including the Pacific region. Two thirds of the 176 countries ranked in the 2012 index score below 50. Papua New Guinea ranked 150th out of 176 countries, with a score of 25. The Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji were not included in this year's rankings due to an absence of reliable data sources.
TI defines corruption as "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain". Corruption can take place in a variety of areas and adversely impacts societies by encouraging inequalities and robbing citizens of resources, infrastructure and opportunities they would have otherwise had.
Corruption affects all societies and is a major factor in reducing the effectiveness of political, economic, and social development. At an economic level, corruption depletes the wealth of the country and impedes economic growth. Corruption in the logging and mining sectors has a major impact on relevant Pacific countries' current and future economies.
"The disparity between New Zealand's score and some of the scores in the neighbouring Pacific reinforces the importance of New Zealand's support to strengthen anti-corruption systems and processes in the Pacific by drawing on our comparative advantage in this area" says Head of New Zealand Aid Programme, Amanda Ellis.
New Zealand aims to strengthen community safety and democratic and transparent systems and processes in the Pacific. It does this through funding that strengthens the capacity of Pacific policing, judiciaries, and ombudsman, and through organisations and programmes such as the Pacific Association of Supreme Audit Institutions and for the Pacific Institutional and Network Strengthening Programme (PINSP). The latter is implemented by the Transparency International Secretariat with technical support from Transparency International New Zealand.
The Pacific Institutional and Network Strengthening Programme, now in its second year, is helping to strengthen the effectiveness and sustainability of the national Transparency Chapters in PNG, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji. The 4 Chapters have a central goal of reducing corruption in their countries and thereby contributing to improved conditions for supporting economic growth, better overall governance, and reduction in poverty levels. This is an area where New Zealand's comparative advantage can be leveraged to support the efforts of Pacific Island countries to strengthen transparent systems and processes to address corruption.