Transparency International has released its 2019 Corruption Perception Index which analyses and assigns each country a score for perceived public sector corruption.
A score of 100 indicates a country’s government is perceived to be “very clean” and zero is “highly corrupt”. Australia has a score of 77 (ranking 12th) while New Zealand ranked equal first with a score of 87. The US, even amidst its impeachment proceedings, scored 69 (ranking 23rd).
The Index reveals a staggering number of countries are showing little to no improvement in tackling corruption.
The accompanying report notes that to have any chance of curbing corruption, “governments must strengthen checks and balances, limit the influence
of big money in politics and ensure broad input in political decision-making”.
It makes seven recommendations:
* Manage conflicts of interest: Governments should reduce the risk of undue influence in policy-making by tightening controls over financial and other interests of government officials. Governments should also address “revolving doors”, establish cooling-off periods for former officials and ensure rules are properly enforced and sanctioned.
* Control political financing: In order to prevent excessive money and influence in politics, governments should improve and properly enforce campaign finance regulations. Political parties should also disclose their sources of income, assets and loans, and governments should empower oversight agencies with stronger mandates and appropriate resources.
* Strengthen electoral integrity: For democracy to be effective against corruption, governments must ensure that elections are free and fair. Preventing and sanctioning vote-buying and misinformation campaigns are essential to rebuilding trust in government and ensuring that citizens can use their vote to punish corrupt politicians.
* Regulate lobbying: Governments should promote open and meaningful access to decision-making and consult a wider range of groups, beyond well-resourced lobbyists and a few private interests. Lobbying activities should be public and easily accessible.
* Tackle preferential treatment: Governments should create mechanisms to ensure that service delivery and public resource allocation are not driven by personal connections or are biased towards special interest groups at the expense of the overall public good.
* Empower citizens: Governments should protect civil liberties and political rights, including freedom of speech, expression and association. Governments should engage civil society and protect citizens, activists, whistleblowers and journalists in monitoring and exposing corruption.
* Reinforce checks and balances: Governments must promote the separation of powers, strengthen judicial independence and preserve checks and balances.
In our opinion, these recommendations could equally apply to individual government agencies, Not for Profits, and private sector organisations.