BY BEN BILUA
TRANSPARENCY International (TI) 2016 Corruption ranking shows Solomon Islands sitting at 72nd position out of 176 countries with a score of 42 out of 100.
The ranking indication certify zero as highly corrupted countries and 100 as very clean and corrupt free countries.
From the ranking, Solomon Islands can be described as average country with corruption existence in the society.
Research found that higher-ranked countries tend to have higher degrees of press freedom, access to information about public expenditure, stronger standards of integrity for public officials, and independent judicial systems while lower ranked countries affected by opposite system.
It is said that lower-ranked countries in TI index are plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary, even anti-corruption laws are on the books and practice, the legislations and institutions are often skirted or ignored.
TI report stated that lower-ranked countries are frequently faced with situations of bribery and extortion, rely on basic services that have been undermined by the misappropriation of funds, and confront official indifference when seeking redress from authorities that are on the take.
The higher-ranked countries are not immune to closed-door deals, conflicts of interest, illicit finance, and patchy law enforcement that can distort public policy and exacerbate corruption at home and abroad and that most obvious forms of corruption may not scar citizens’ daily lives.
According to the report, Solomon Islands continues to face numbers of corruption challenges fuelled by the size of the country and its geographic features, low state penetration, weak central institutions, of the region and specific governance challenges associated with the management of natural resources.
It is highlighted that corruption manifest itself in a variety of forms, ranging from petty corruption, embezzlement, grand and political corruption and various forms of nepotism and patronage networks.
Corrupt practices in the management of natural resources are specific areas of concerns given the current prospects of transitioning from a logging to a minerals-based economy in the coming years, with the country insufficiently prepared for the transition.
The development of the anti-corruption strategy, a freedom of information policy, the enactment of an anti-corruption bill and a whistleblower protection bill as a precursor to a right to information bill, as well as reform to strengthen existing anti-corruption legislation and institutions are action taken to fight corruption.
In the meantime the report highly recommends that measures can be taken at the agency level to empower staff in their interactions with public officials to resist acts of bribery and extortion.
Such measures typically involve having clear anti-corruption guidelines and principles in place, building the capacity of staff to deal with such situations, and empowering them to report safely and transparently on such occurrences through internal policies, training and practical guidance.
The report stated that there are few operational policies, strategies and tools publicly available to assist agency staff in resisting such extortion.
Donors can also help influence the overall country context by fully harnessing existing internal and external reporting mechanisms and using citizens’ accountability tools, including new technologies, to resist petty bribery.