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Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI) has found that the New Zealand and Denmark public sectors are the least corrupt in the world.
The Corruption Perceptions Index is the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. Compiled by Berlin-based Transparency International (TI), it is a yearly snapshot of the relative degree of corruption world-wide, arrived at by scoring and ranking the public sectors in countries from all over the globe. This year’s Index encompasses 176 countries.
When the Corruption Perceptions Index is produced each year, it reinforces the global importance of transparency in the public sector.
New Zealand, Denmark and Finland have jostled for the #1 position of perceived least corrupt public sector since the index was first published in 1995.
Top performers share key characteristics: high levels of press freedom; access to budget information so the public knows where money comes from and how it is spent; high levels of integrity among people in power; and judiciaries that don’t differentiate between rich and poor, and that are truly independent from other parts of government.
"Our public-sector agencies have focused successfully on developing processes that prevent corruption and these contribute to New Zealand’s stand-out reputation for a trusted public sector” says Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) Chair, Suzanne Snively. “New Zealand trades on its low corruption reputation and we are increasingly finding how to transfer these behaviours from our public to our private sector to leverage off this enviable reputation for integrity.”
“Our public servants from throughout the country have a right to celebrate this news. The TI-CPI proves that they are working to do a good job preventing corrupt behaviour.”
Deloitte Partner, Barry Jordan notes: “It’s tremendous to see Transparency International’s latest score for New Zealand. In recent years, New Zealand’s regulators, law enforcement officers, public sector organisations and professional services firms have all invested considerably more in identifying and preventing bribery and corruption. This helps build public trust and business confidence.”
“A larger number of public sector agencies have integrated corruption prevention activities into their regular routine, in line with the northern European countries." adds Snively. “Significantly, they are moving from defensiveness and complacency, increasingly providing training and monitoring of bribery and corruption in order to stop it.”
She continues, “Most importantly, we have noticed a growing awareness that public sector leaders can inspire businesses and communities to also build on the value that integrity contributes to creating a more prosperous society."
The biggest challenge for New Zealand public servants to maintain a top ranking on the TI-CPI has been a tendency to become complacent. The prevention of corruption can be regarded as a lesser priority, given all the other pressures, including earthquakes, the global financial crisis and the consequent reductions in baseline funding.
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) is one of around 100 local chapters of the Berlin-based Transparency International. It is one of only 22 Chapters from countries with a reputation as low corruption environments. For many of the other chapters, corruption is such a major part of daily life that they are focused on enforcement and often unable to experience the positive impact of corruption-prevention measures.
TINZ Patron Sir Don McKinnon notes that: “as a previous Commonwealth Secretary General, I am conscious of the unique features of New Zealand’s trustworthy public service. The TI–CPI score is an independent and objective assessment and is sending a clear message to anyone sceptical about the integrity of our public service. It’s time to work harder and harvest the benefits of this authentic brand, to increase sales and profits that lead to creating jobs and widening the tax base to invest in essential services like education and healthcare.”
Rebecca Smith, Director of the New Zealand Story Group, commended Transparency International NZ for its clarity and sense of purpose. “With a public sector that works assiduously to build strong integrity systems, it becomes easier for business to gain market access offshore. There is clear material, as well as moral benefits associated with transparency and integrity.”
“Governments rely on the positive reputation of their countries for economic success and it’s excellent to see NZ, once again, ranked in 1st equal position in the 2016 Corruptions Perception Index. Our reputation for doing the right things and doing them in the right way is something we can be proud of as a nation and something we must continue to nurture in an ever-changing, global political landscape.”
Wendy McGuinness, CEO of the McGuinness Institute noted that “The role of the Transparency International-CPI in benchmarking the perception of corruption is critically important. Given that New Zealand is ranked highly means that we are doing well, but this should not make us complacent – we could do better. Corruption delivers a range of unintended consequences such as poverty, inequality and lower tax revenue (due to tax fraud). Once corruption is embedded into the system of government, it creates a ‘new normal’ and that new normal can impact on families and communities over many generations.
Building and empowering trust within civil society is one key way New Zealand can combat corruption. This is why civics and quality reporting form part of the Institute’s work programme in 2017. New Zealand is a small, isolated and wealthy country; we should be working harder to be an example to the world.”