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Last month’s publication of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (TI-CPI) brings a storm warning for New Zealand’s future living standards with a drop from 2nd to 4th place between 2014 and 2015.
New Zealand has always been in the top four rankings of the TI-CPI since the beginning of the survey. Top ranking, however, has regularly moved between New Zealand (7 times #1), Denmark (10 times at #1) and Finland (7 times ranked #1).
Since 2013, the TI-CPI scoring methodology has become more precise and the specific finding of the 2015 Index is that New Zealand score has fallen three points from 91 to 88. Given the data, a fall of one point is probably “insignificant”. A fall of three points in the TI-CPI is a concern as it indicates a possible trend and a new (downward) direction of travel.
As a small country, at some distance from major populations, it is particularly important that New Zealand maintains its reputation for high integrity.
A closer analysis of the data applied to compile the scores for the 168 countries included in the 2015 Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, shows that New Zealand’s public sector is still perceived to be one of the least corrupt in the world. This merits celebration – it is a major achievement and reflects something fundamentally strong about our public sector.
This saves us from huge additional costs to everyday life where there are corrupt public officials. We are learning this first hand in dealing increasingly with countries where paying bribes for service is common.
By taking pride in a public sector with a reputation for high levels of integrity, New Zealand’s civil society and the business sector stand to benefit through better access to users and customers, lower costs, increased added value and greater staff commitment.
Given its distance from markets, New Zealand is at a disadvantage. This means that its employed population must work particularly hard to gain value from its activities to support the quality of life its residents aspire to. New Zealand’s high score and high ranking on the TI-CPI contribute to a reputation for integrity that gives it additional economic muscle it wouldn’t have otherwise.
The public sector, including Parliamentarians, to follow the lead of the exemplary NZ Defence Force and Ministry of Defence who have been ranked #1 for the 2015 Government Defence Anti-Corruption Index. Defence officials are scrupulously analysing the factors that contribute to high levels of accountability and transparency to be able to maintain and continuously improve integrity, including, for example, stricter supply chain management.
Suzanne Snively, Chair
Transparency International New Zealand Inc.