Pacific update

Janine McGruddy

TINZ Deputy Chair

I was asked to provide an update on our courageous TI Pacific Chapters in Vanuatu, Solomons, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. I wish I had better news to report and this is the hardest article I have had to write for the Transparency Times.

How do I put into words the sadness and frustration at the lack of funding for these incredibly brave grassroots civil society members and the invaluable work they do?

Can anyone think of anything more important in this part of the world, where powerful nations are competing to gain control/influence over their fishing, forestry and extractive industry resources, and where the rest of the worlds contributions to climate change will hit hardest, than transparency, anti-corruption education and the courage to speak truth to power?

How is this not valued above all other possible development funding priorities by the New Zealand and Australian governments?

Janine McGruddy

Janine McGruddy
TINZ Deputy Chair

Our friends in the Pacific will soon be out of funding; the main problem with getting funding is the lack of available funding for the basics: office, staff, power, etc. Funding for projects exists but how can they bid for that funding without the infrastructure to ensure project success? Potential private sector supporters have been verbally supportive, but are less willing to provide financial support due to the risk to their own business activities from political pressures!

Examples of what they have been doing are inspiring and the thought that this work may end is deeply frustrating:

  • TI Solomon Island (TSI) – In mid-April, the Chief Justice delivered a judgement on an issue which began from TSI and was taken to court by five citizens (including TSI board members). The High Court ordered MPs to pay tax and re-pay all other entitlements that they unconstitutionally awarded themselves 2015.
  • TI Vanuatu (TIV) – A large programme of anti-corruption training over May, including: with NGOs (run with UNDP): two trainings with youth in Malekula; and presenting at the “Integrity and National Anti-Corruption Policy Workshop for senior civil servants (a UN Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption Project) in partnership with the Government of Vanuatu.
  • TI Fiji (TIF) – Reshaped its priorities following Tropical Cyclone (TC) Winston. This includes extending the training offered to youth-focused partners and stakeholders to include training for on Preventing Corruption in Humanitarian Operations, and researching and tracking TC Winston relief and aid.
  • TI Papua New Guinea (TIPNG) – Preparing school-based civic education publications and a new Election Awareness Campaign MOU has been signed between the integrity institutions: Ombudsman Commission, Royal PNG Constabulary, PNG Electoral Commission and TI PNG.  TI PNG has also hosted its Youth Against Corruption (YACA) forum in partnership with Correctional Services themed ‘Crime & Youth in the City’.

TINZ is still hopeful that Transparency International, will be able to find funding to ensure that years of experience in the anti-corruption fight in the Pacific are not lost.

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