PNG in 150th place on corruption index | Pacific Beat

PNG in 150th place on corruption index

PNG in 150th place on corruption index

Updated 7 December 2012, 11:54 AEDT

Papua New Guinea has barely improved its position in the world corruption perception index.

The list of countries and how corrupt they are thought to be is prepared annually by Transparency International.

This year PNG is in joint 150th place, alongside Eritrea, Guinea-Bissau and Paraguay.

The other two nations from our region mentioned in the index are New Zealand, which shares first place for lack of corruption with Finland and Denmark, and Australia in seventh place along with Norway.

Lawrence Stephen, Chairman of Transparency International PNG, says the result is disappointing, but efforts are underway to tackle the problem of corruption.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Lawrence Stephen, Chairman of Transparency International PNG


STEPHEN: At this stage it looks like we're still where we were this time last year. You need to take into account that one of the things that hasn't been factored in yet is the impact of any of the promises by the new government to crack down on corruption, and we'd hoped to see something show up in the future, but what we have is a ranking of 150, and when you look at where we are with that ranking, and you look at the company we're keeping, you can see that we have yet to start improve, there's a long way to go. When you look at countries that have reputations for struggling with corruption and find then 20, 30, 40, almost 100 places above us, it is clear that we have an immense challenge.
HILL: Corruption in PNG is pretty pervasive. I encountered it myself once when applying for a visa to go to PNG, and I was told that oh, if you give us a voluntary contribution to the staff Christmas fund they called it, of 200 dollars cash, then it would be expedited and I'd get it very quickly. So this is the sort of thing that happens on a kind of a day-to-day basis, it's hard to get rid of this once it starts isn't it?
STEPHEN: Absolutely, I'm horrified to hear you describe it. That is unfortunately the reality we face Bruce. It's really important in those circumstances, particularly if you have a witness to be able to report what happened, and have people like that attended to. But unfortunately when these things creep in to any system they can become endemic. And that's what the Prime Minister has spoken about on a regular basis, that's what former prime minister Sir Mekere Morauta spoke about in various capacities, and it's something that we really need to keep battering against. 
HILL: It's something that concerns the whole countries doesn't it, because with all the money that's going to flow in because of the gas project and all the mineral wealth flowing into the country, if corruption remains as endemic as it is, a lot of the money's not going to go to hospitals and schools and roads, it's just going to vanish isn't it?
STEPHEN: That's correct and it can be stopped, the rot can be stopped provided we have people paying attention to this, provided we don't just depend on the official system in Papua New Guinea to attend to it, it's provided we get assistance outside Papua New Guinea as well. We can stop it but it is a battle, and we simply need attention to it. It really helps for example if you have more investigative journalism, people prepared to track down the money trails to advise on what's going on, that sort of issue.
HILL: Is this something that PNG can sort out by itself, or does it need help from other countries? I noticed that I think Australia is in fifth of sixth place and New Zealand is first equal, so you've got two apparently very "honest" countries right next to PNG, which is very high corruption. Can those two countries assist PNG do you think?
STEPHEN: In fact they should, and in fact there are countries that bask in the scores, there are suggestions that they are not amongst the more corrupt who in fact benefit from corruption in countries like Papua New Guinea. And they in fact have their own domestic laws which allow them to pay attention to issues like for example the proceeds of crime. There are laws that enable the banks, Federal Police in Australia for example to pay more attention to what's going on, and unfortunately we haven't seen much sign of that.
HILL: There's been a suggestion in the past that some of the money made by corruption in PNG actually winds up in Australian banks and also in the property market. I think quite a few houses in Queensland are actually bought with the profits of corruption in PNG?
STEPHEN: Exactly, this is what we are led to believe, and quite frankly when you know how much a politician or a public service leader is earning officially, then it becomes quite clear that the properties associated with them in places like Australia are at best questionable, and those questions should have been asked by the banks involved in those transactions.


Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill


Bruce is one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists with nearly 20 years covering the region and has won several international awards.

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