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The Corruption Perception Index (CPI) score and ranking of countries that are captured in this assessment will be launched on the 31st of January 2023 worldwide.  At this date countries that are assessed will know how clean or corrupt their public sector is.  Solomon Islands is included in this assessment, and it will know how corrupt the public sector is and how the government, citizens and key stakeholders in this space have done with regard to fighting corruption in the public sector and in other sectors where corruption occurs.

So what, who, institutions, entities are we referring to here in the Solomon Islands when we talk about the “PUBLIC SECTOR”? Putting it into simple terms the public sector comprises the machinery of government, a set of institutions that are recognizably funded at the public’s (we the people & private sector) expenses or taxpayers money and are responsible for collective organisation of social existence of the people of Solomon Islands and those residing in it doing business or otherwise. This role and responsibility differentiate the public sector from Civil Society and the government. It comprises the various institutions of the government bureaucracy (public service, the Legislature, the Executive Government, the Judiciary, Courts, Police, Commissions, social security, and State-Owned Enterprises etc.).

It follows therefore that the CPI measures how clean or how corrupt these institutions are when serving the people of Solomon Islands, indicates how much effort they have put into combating corrupt conducts and practices and how they have managed tax-payers funds in the provision of services, the development of Solomon Islands, its natural and human resources, how they have facilitated the clean growth of the private sector etc.  Have they done so to the best interest of the people whose entrusted power they exercise or have they done so just serving their own agenda. It is also an indication of how easy and clean it is to do business in Solomon Islands, and the corruption cost to doing business in Solomon Islands etc.

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How corrupt or clean the public sector of country is determines; how easy and transparent it is to do business in the country, the economic development and growth, the quality and level of education and health services provided to people and many more positive outcomes for the country.  More importantly is the decentralisation of development to enable people stay in their province, in their land, discover their economic potential and take part in the healthy development of Solomon Islands, providing employment opportunities for all especially the school dropouts and the youth population that Solomon Islands has.  How clean and corrupt a public sector is has huge implication on employment opportunities for not only our young people and youth but for men and women alike. These are the implications and impact of a clean or corrupt public sector. In Solomon Islands the Public Sector remains the harbinger of development.

The CPI is a measurement of the perceptions of public sector corruption from businesspeople and experts. In this regard a scan conducted by the Solomon Islands Chamber of Commerce (SICCI) on doing business here in Solomon Islands showed that the biggest barrier to doing business and growing business in Solomon Islands is corruption.  Despite this finding SICCI does not have any dedicated program, to advocate for clean business and honest government, probably due to government being the main client providing business given the status of development and economic growth of Solomon Islands.

People openly talked about how corrupt the public and the private sector are from their personal experiences, observations, and perceptions, but these were not quantified till recently in study done by Transparency International of the Pacific countries the key findings of which are published in the Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021. In this study capturing Solomon Islands peoples experiences, observations, perceptions agree with the scan that SICCI carried out and revealed more. The people (taxpayers) of Solomon Islands see corruption as a big problem both in the public sector (97%) and the private sector (90%), where 21% paid a bribe for public services in the last 12 months, 33% experienced sextortion or know someone who has, 25% were offered bribe in exchange for votes, 60% say companies frequently using money or connections to secure government contracts, whilst only 18% say officials engaged in corruption frequently face consequences. In the findings of this study too the most corrupt institutions from the experiences, observations, and perceptions of the people of Solomon Islands are as follows:

Corruption by Institutions Table (GCB Pacific 2021)

Institutions Percentage (%)
Members of Parliament    55%
Companies Extracting natural Resources 53%
Prime Minister       45%
Business Executives 28%
Civil Servants       27%
Police 27%
Judges and Magistrates   14%
Bankers                      13%
Community Leaders 13%
Workers in CSOs &NGOs  12%
Religious Leaders    7%

*Percentage who think that most or all people in these institutions are corrupt

Furthermore, no Audit Report of the Government Finances has returned any clean audit.  This means that the Auditor General has not been given all the documentation that he needs to verify that public funds have been spend and properly acquitted as appropriated by the National Parliament to rule out public funds being misused by people in positions of power. We have witnessed how the Shipping Grant, the Transport Grant, the CDF have failed to bring about the intended purpose for which these were appropriated, the Economic Stimulus Package, and now allegations of corrupt practices in contract awards etc. of Land Marine Connectivity Project funded by ADB should be of grave concern to the funder and more so to beneficiaries. The ADB Land Marine Connectivity Project is intended to rehabilitate the Mendana Avenue (1.7km Honiara City Council to Town Ground with asphalt concrete wearing course, upgrading the existing  Town Ground to White River 3.1 km road section from two lanes to four lanes, with asphalt concrete wearing course, improving road safety through intersection treatments, provision of refuge islands, and footpaths, and improve traffic flows through provision of bus bays; and (iii) rehabilitating the Henderson to Mberande 31 km road section with double bituminous surface treatment etc. Transparency Solomon Islands given the fact that the Office of the Auditor General has found it difficult and at times threatened to carry out its work calls for the Independence of the Auditor General’s Office to carry out its and not hampered by corrupt politicians, public officers etc.

In relation to the CPI, the government has established a commission, Solomon Islands Independent Commission Against Corruption (SIICAC) to concentrate on fighting corruption and educating population about corruption, and its negative impact on service delivery, their customary properties, and their lives.  The Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021 showed that ordinary people want to partner with the government to fight corruption, 84% said ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.  Transparency Solomon Islands leading up to the date of the release of Solomon Islands CPI Score and Ranking calls on SIICAC to work in collaboration with citizens and civil society in this fight and government to review the act to give it teeth to bite or for the Commission to have real power than that power being in the Prime Minister as it is.

The CPI will show how we also have worked together in this fight against corruption, the gaps and what we can do together as a national to eliminate the misuse and abuse of power for personal gain by those sitting in position of power.

So where are we so far in previous years.  The Corruption Perception Index of Solomon Islands shows that government’s efforts to tackle corruption in the Public sector is not going anyway or has become stagnant. The Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021 of Transparency International confirms this – opinions, experiences, perceptions, observations of people. It is no rocket science to know why, since the most corrupt institution of the public sector are the Members of Parliament, Companies extracting natural resources. It has been said quite often in media that this Executive Government is in the loggers pocket and no wonder both top the list of most corrupted. The key Government Institutions that should be leading or providing the leadership, bringing in reforms etc. in this fight are the most corruption per GCB Pacific 2021.

The most important component of a Democratic State/Country are its people, collective decision-making, and rule of law.The CPI scores for Solomon Islands reflects the efforts  of the Executive Government tackling corruption levels in the public sector. These efforts have stagnated, since 2016.The Global Corruption Barometer Pacific 2021 reveals some of the reasons for the stagnation in government’s corruption fight struggle. The very institutions that should lead this fight and protect democracy are the most corrupt. Accountability in political decision-makers is at its lowest and continues to slide. There is very little integrity in the relationship between the government and the Private Sector. Government is run by few big interests (loggers, miners) and driven by the deliverables demanded by foreign interest.

Whilst International and Regional Elections Observers say elections are free and fair in Solomon Islands, they are not at all. Vote buying is a big issue. Reliance on money or connection to obtain government contract still a huge issue. Public Officers engaged in corrupt conduct and practices rarely or never face consequences. Since Covid – 19 crisis authoritarian approach to managing crisis has taken on a strong hold restricting civil society space, voice, and activism.  Civil Society, voice, space, activism holding power to account have been further restricted and denied under Covid – 19 SOE and the invading authoritarian practices displayed by the Executive Government.

We the people can continue to cry foul and label Members of Parliament as the most corrupt but what do we expect when come election time we vote for CDF, school fees, outboard motors etc. We are responsible for the corruption we se in our representatives to the parliament because we corrupt them on election days and electing a Legislature that is corrupt. All these add to how we do in the Corruption Perception Index Score and Ranking. The power is in your hands to change our CPI to the better or worse.

Transparency Solomon Islands through its Chairman Mr Rodney Kingmele will launch the CPI Score and Ranking for Solomon Islands on January 31st at 4.00pm.


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