By Joseph Veramu, CLCT Integrity Fiji
The TINZ South Pacific Anti-Corruption Networking Project has been a blessing in highlighting the corruption challenges in Fiji and the Pacific Islands, and the strategies needed for combatting these.
The project is funded by New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT). It has shown that local and regional NGOs can work together to curb corruption.
There are five components to collaboration by Civic Leaders for Clean Transactions (CLCT) Integrity Fiji with Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ), under the South Pacific Anti Corruption Networking Project.
Almost all regional and international NGOs, UN agencies and embassies are represented in Fiji. Recently CLCT Integrity Fiji visited the Pacific Islands Association of NGOs, the Pacific Youth Forum Against Corruption and the Fiji National University Dept of Ethics, to discuss anti-corruption networking.
The First Secretary of the Australian High Commission invited our Chair for coffee to discuss the new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Ethics and Anti-Corruption in Oceania, we have developed.
Anti-corruption has not been perceived as a ‘sexy’ topic. Most NGOs are focussed on the thematic areas of climate change, poverty alleviation and development. However, they are recognising that development failures in the Pacific are usually caused by corruption, and the importance of proactively integrating anti-corruption safeguards into all these areas.
The second component of our joint work is TINZ’s assistance with CLCT Integrity Fiji’s application for accreditation with Transparency International. We have filed all our paperwork. TINZ funded a Retreat held 8-10 January 2021 at Blue West Villas in Maui Bay, to finalise our Annual Report 2020 and our Child Protection / Safeguarding Policy. These documents were required as part of the vetting process. Being declared a ‘national contact’ seems like a very strong possibility!
The third area of collaboration with TINZ is in expediting Fiji’s inclusion in the Corruption Perception Index. In order to include a country into the CPI, there is a need to have a minimum of three sources (surveys) of data. Fiji is currently included in only 2 of the CPIs component surveys. CLCT Integrity Fiji is working with TINZ and the TI Asia Pacific Office, to encourage the inclusion of Fiji in additional surveys from which the CPI is drawn.
CLCT Integrity Fiji completed a Review of Pacific Islands National Integrity Systems’ Assessments (NISA). A NISA evaluates key ‘pillars’ in a country’s governance system, both in terms of their internal corruption risks and their contribution to fighting corruption in society. The review paper looked at the variables for undertaking a NISA that is appropriate for Pacific island nations.
Collaborators providing constructive comments included: Leonard Chan (NZMFAT), Ruth Liloqula (TI Solomon Islands), Willie Tokon (TI Vanuatu) and Katy Mackey (TI Pacific Regional Office). Their comments are integrated into the paper, Island nations. This review is awaiting final review before publication.
The TINZ South Pacific Anti-Corruption Networking Project has been very beneficial in affirming those NGOs working in the anti-corruption space, to work together on constructive strategies for curbing corruption in the Pacific. CLCT Integrity Fiji is very grateful to TINZ for the opportunity to collaborate on this proactive project.
Picture caption: CLCT Integrity Fiji participants met at the TINZ funded Retreat held at Blue West Villas in Maui Bay, 8 - 10 January 2021, to finalise our documents.