BY MIKE TUA
SOLOMON Islands was ranked 77 out of 180 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2019, according to a report released by Transparency International (TI), an international non-governmental organization based in Berlin.
CPI uses a scale of 0 to 100 to rank nations, where 0 is highly corrupt and 100 is very clean. The Solomon Islands score is below 50 indicating the widespread and the existence of serious levels of public sector corruption.
Solomon Islands score dropped by two points and is 42/100 and it reveals that the country is showing very little to no improvement in tackling corruption in the year 2019. Corruption Rank in the country averaged 96.11 from 2007 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of 120 in 2011 and a record low of 70 in 2018.
In 2018 when the government, its institutions of integrity, civil society and the media worked together we were the country that improved our score [5 points] the most in the Asia Pacific region despite the fact that we are still at the bottom half of the score.
Transparency Solomon Islands, Legal officer, Joy Abia stressed that our score critically informs us of how effective and non-effective our effort was in 2019 and informs us of the need to up our act and prevent another further slide this year.
“In 2019, the country witnessed elements of such conduct and behavior from leaders who exercised people’s entrusted power with a challenge from the Legislature, and Judiciary.
“The important message to note is just because a country does well on the COI it does not mean it is corrupt free. On the same token, just because our score of 42 is not statistically significant, it does not mean corruption in the public sector has gone stagnant. Lack of service delivery is an indication of serious levels of public sector corruption,” Transparency Solomon Islands, Legal officer said.
Last year, Solomon Islands witnessed the national general election and the period leading up to the formation of the new Executive Government. Substantial evidence has identified that the new regime was very much open to political party financing and politicians were open to undue influence from vested interests and such a government was obviously less able to combat corruption on its own and they have failed to partner with the people in the fight against corruption.
“In 2019, we observed people’s frustration with the public sector and lack of trust in public institutions,” Joy Abia expressed. “Transparency Solomon Islands calls on the three arms of the government to urgently address the corrupting role of big money party financing and undue influence it exerts on our political system and democracy.”
She said Solomon Islands 2019 CPI score and ranking of how corrupt or clean the public sector stands at 42 and 77 respectively, and it has dropped by two points and we are still at the bottom half of the scores.
“The drop in Transparency Solomon Islands is a reflection of the relationships and partnerships that have with its people.
“It is therefore important that media freedom, people’s voices, activism, and space must be protected and government work in partnership with its people and civil society including allowing participation in decision making. It was that improved score in 2018.
“We have shown we can do it so let us work together and slide not further down in 2020 (this year),” she added.
The 2018 score reflects the combined effort of both the government and civil society. In 2019 the restriction of civil society space activism and voice in issues of accountability have contributed amongst others to the drop in our score.
The Transparency Solomon Islands, Legal officer further calls on the government to recognize the drop in 2019 and start better enforcement and implementation of existing laws, increase independent resourcing of institutions of integrity, including the adequate funding of the newly established Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption.
“Of equal importance to this effort. Transparency Solomon Islands call on the government (Legislature, Executive Government and Judiciary) for more transparent and open engagement and partnership with civil society.”