17 November 2021

Transparency International published its first assessment of corruption in Pacific States this week. The observations of 6,000 people from ten Pacific States disclose the frequency with which interactions with business and government must be facilitated with cash and sexual favours. Over 60% of those surveyed believe corruption is a significant problem in their government and more than half say that it is getting worse. Over a third think almost all politicians and many senior public servants are corrupt. Fewer than 20% believe that politicians and officials have a focus on public wellbeing; most feel little action is taken to address corruption.

Transparency International reports that the frequency of paying bribes for services appears to be more common in the Pacific Islands than disclosed in any of its Corruption Barometer surveys elsewhere in the World.

To obtain better or quicker responses, almost 30% Pacific Islanders spoke of paying to get official documents issued. About 25% paid bribes when dealing with the Police or when seeking health services or public utilities. More than 60% of respondents think businesses secure government contracts through bribes and connections.

Interestingly there is a substantial variation among the Pacific States in the most common forms of corruption and its extent. Respondents in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea saw three times more corruption than those in French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

Election corruption in the Federated States of Micronesia is seen to be ten times worse than in Fiji and Tonga. On average 13% of respondents made a Police report about paying bribes, rising to 30% in Fiji and Kiribati.

A similar trend to the Pacific States Corruption Barometer is evident in the Control of Corruption component of the 2021 Worldwide Governance Indicators published recently. Corruption is found more frequently in the Western Pacific than in the eastern, Polynesian states.

The Corruption Barometer does not include observations and statistics from Niue, Tokelau, Cook Islands or Tuvalu.    

 Respondents saying corruption is a big problem in Government        
Solomon Islands     97%
Papua-New Guinea96%
Federated States of Micronesia80%
New Caledonia17%
French Polynesia16%
Corruption in Pacific big problem – and it’s getting worse, says report