Observations about the 2020 CPI

The 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released on 28 February 2021 once again ranks the New Zealand public sector and judiciary as the least corrupt in the world.

Since its inception in 1995, the CPI has consistently ranked New Zealand as one of the least corrupt nations in the world. Over the past nine years New Zealand has vied with Denmark to be the first-ranked country with the least corrupt public sector.

Below are some observations about corruption and this year’s CPI. 

Global Corruption

This year’s CPI paints a grim picture of the state of corruption worldwide. The index indicates that most countries have made little to no progress in tackling corruption in nearly a decade. More than two-thirds of countries score below 50.

Analysis by Transparency International shows that corruption not only undermines the global health response to COVID-19, but contributes to a continuing crisis of democracy.

New Zealand Trading Partners

Most notable of New Zealand’s largest trading partners is the increasing perception of corruption in the United States which scored 67 in 2020 compared to 75 in 2017 while dropping from the 18th to the 25th least corrupt country in the world. Key partners South Korea, Germany, Australia and China all show small statistically insignificant improvement over the last 5 years.

"As a country extremely dependent on trade, New Zealand must always be vigilant and strive to export best practices and avoid adopting poor ones. When corruption is on the rise within our key partners - as it is in the United States - we have to be concerned." says Anne Tolley, Chair Transparency International New Zealand.
We also need to make sure we are not facilitators of corruption in other countries.” 

Asia Pacific

Three Asia-Pacific countries included in the index – Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea - are largely unchanged and are in need of strong anti-corruption efforts.  Civil society actors and allies across Vanuatu (CPI = 43), Papua New Guinea (27) and the Solomon Islands (42) are advocating strongly for anti-corruption. Their most recent calls are for greater transparency and accountability in the COVID-19 response. 

In Papua New Guinea, civil society demanded an audit of emergency funds and procurement to ensure an inclusive process. In the Solomon Islands, little progress has been made since the passing of its 2018 anti-corruption law. In 2020, key government actors were accused of diverting funds intended to help people struggling during the pandemic.

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