Corruption Perceptions Index 2021
Every year Transparency International marks countries for their efforts to fight public sector corruption. Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) puts corruption on the map – quite literally.
The Corruption Perception Index has become the leading global indicator of public sector corruption. The index scores and ranks 180 countries and territories on their perceived levels of public sector corruption, as determined by business people and regional experts.
This year the CPI also looks back over a decade, showing that corruption levels remain at a standstill worldwide, with 86 percent of countries making little to no progress in the last 10 years.
New Zealand 2021 CPI
New Zealand is once again in the top scoring countries (least corrupt). Our score of 88 out of 100 is unchanged, making us first equal with Denmark and Finland.
For New Zealand this is recognition of relatively low levels of corruption, not that it is free from it.
“International recognition for low levels of corruption is essential to New Zealand’s trade dependent economy,” says Anne Tolley, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand. “Solid credit ratings and lower costs of contracting and compliance allow us to remain competitive internationally. Maintaining active vigilance against corruption has significant financial value to the country”
New Zealand shares a wide array of characteristics with other top performing countries. Top countries are open, liberal democracies with a free press and well educated population. They embrace the notion of transparency, therefore helping citizens see where their hard-earned money gets spent. They have independent judiciaries, and all support long-held assumptions about increased accountability leading to lower levels of corruption.
Corruption remains an issue with New Zealand’s major trading partners including China – which whilst making slight gains this year still only scores 45/100, Australia which has declined markedly.
While the region has made great strides in controlling bribery for basic services, an average score stalled at 45 out of 100 shows much more needs to be done to solve the region’s corruption problems. Some higher-scoring countries are even experiencing a decline as governments fail to address grand corruption, uphold rights and consult citizens.
Australia with a score of 73 has been one of the world’s most significant decliners over the last decade – and it has lost four more points this year. Its ranking has shifted from 11th place last year to 18th place this year.
The country continues to have no national integrity commission to prevent, detect and stop corruption. Lobbying regulations fall short of international standards, enforcement is weak against companies paying bribes to secure contracts abroad and anti-money laundering laws are inadequate.
‘Australia’s ranking on Transparency International’s global Corruption Perceptions Index has hit a record low.’ Said Serena Lillywhite, CEO of Transparency International Australia.
‘The dramatic fall in Australia’s standing underscores the urgent need for the establishment of a national integrity commission with the full powers of a royal commission.
‘Transparency International Australia has been sounding the alarm on Australia’s deteriorating global corruption standing for years. The latest results point to systemic failings to tackle corruption, foreign bribery and strengthen political integrity.'
Fiji is in the index for the first time since 2005. TINZ’s targeted advocacy and attention is a factor in Fiji’s re-inclusion.
Fiji’s score of 55 ranking it 45th in the world is ahead of other Asia-Pacific island nations in the index.
“CLCT Integrity Fiji is relieved that after 17 years, Fiji has finally returned to the CPI listing. Given that Fiji is the hub and the largest economy in the South Pacific, the mystery was why not enough data could be found to enable Fiji to appear in the CPI listing for all those missing years! To add to the intrigue, all the multilateral agencies like the World Bank, IMF, ADB to name a few, are based in Fiji”, says Joseph Veramu of CLCT Integrity Fiji.
“While Fiji's score and ranking for 2021 are satisfactory, they should not be compared to its Melanesian neighbours. Rather, Fiji should be aspiring to improve its scores and rankings relative to Australia and New Zealand.“
CPI’s International Profile
The CPI is widely used by the media, academics and businesses. National governments also pay close attention to the results – whether they dread or anticipate the Index’s release from one year to the next.
Two years into the devastating COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) reveals that corruption levels have stagnated worldwide. Despite commitments on paper, 131 countries have made no significant progress against corruption over the last decade and this year 27 countries hit historic lows in their CPI score. Meanwhile, human rights and democracy across the world are under assault.
The scores of several democracies – notably the United States and Australia - that used to top the index and champion anti-corruption efforts around the world are deteriorating. Many of these high-scoring countries remain safe havens for corrupt individuals from abroad.
At the top of the CPI, countries in Western Europe and the European Union (EU) continue to wrestle with transparency and accountability in their response to COVID-19, threatening the region’s clean image.
Human Rights Internationally
The theme of this year’s CPI release is human rights, democracy and corruption.
Transparency International’s analysis demonstrates that upholding human rights is crucial in the fight against corruption, with countries who violate civil liberties scoring lower on the CPI.
Complacency in fighting corruption exacerbates human rights abuses and undermines democracy, setting off a vicious spiral. As these rights and freedoms erode and democracy declines, authoritarianism takes its place, contributing to even higher levels of corruption.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, Chair of Transparency International said:
“Human rights are not simply a nice-to-have in the fight against corruption. Authoritarian approaches destroy independent checks and balances and make anti-corruption efforts dependent on the whims of an elite. Ensuring people can speak freely and work collectively to hold power to account is the only sustainable route to a corruption-free society.”
There is an urgent need to accelerate the fight against corruption if we are to halt human rights abuses and democratic decline across the globe.
The results of this year’s CPI show that countries with well protected civil and political liberties generally control corruption better. The fundamental freedoms of association and expression are crucial in the fight for a world free of corruption.
Human Rights In New Zealand
“New Zealand scores well on many indicators, but we can’t afford to be complacent and we still have work to do.” says Julie Haggie, Chief Executive of Transparency International New Zealand. “We need to make sure that we restrict the flow of non-transparent money in and out of New Zealand. We need more transparent public procurement, more protection for whistleblowers and more transparency of political party funding.”
“We expect complaints from people who believe that curtailing our rights under red light restrictions are evidence of corruption” says Haggie. “We don’t agree with that - the restrictions are necessary to protect public health. But New Zealanders are more likely to accept restrictions if they know that they are timebound, rolled back as soon as possible, and if there is transparency around the decision-making processes,” adds Haggie.
How the CPI is calculated
See The ABCs of the CPI: How the Corruption Perceptions Index is calculated for questions about the Corruption Perceptions Index. It covers what the scores mean to what the Index does – and doesn’t – measure.