12 Jul 2013

Corruption now systemic in Solomon Islands - survey

4:59 pm on 12 July 2013

The Solomon Islands government is seen as ineffective in dealing with corruption and Transparency International wants law changes to combat it.

Transparency has just released its latest Global Corruption Barometer, which measures corruption by surveying people around the world.

500 were surveyed in Solomon Islands and most said that corruption had got worse in the past two years.

One in three indicated that public servants had sought a bribe in exchange for a service.

Transparency Solomon Islands Daniel Fenua told Don Wiseman the figures have come as a surprise.

DANIEL FENUA: Yeah, it seems that bribery has become so systemic in every service that people would like to obtain. So every time they go for a service they have to pay a bribe. It's becoming a normal thing when it's not the right thing to do.

DON WISEMAN: Do we know how big these bribes are? Are we talking monetary bribes?

DF: From our understanding, it's in the form of cash. If you look at the figures, 44% of people say that they are paying a bribe to speed up the services, so that means they are paying a bribe in the form of cash.

DW: And we've got two of every three people saying corruption in the Solomon Islands has increased over the last two years, yet there's been a lot of emphasis on trying to combat corruption in that time, hasn't there? So does this surprise you?

DF: This sort of surprises us. But if you look at they view the government as very ineffective in the way they deal with corruption, so that shows in itself that corruption has increased just because the government failed to effectively deal with corruption. While out there, organisations like Transparency and others have said that the community can fight corruption are actually coming up on the scene and trying to tell the government about corruption.

DW: And has that got worse through this period, or is it a case that people are now starting to be aware of what corruption is?

DF: I think what's important here is the more the people get to know about the implications of corruption and the kind of probes they would undertake to fight corruption, that's really an important thing to know. So if you look at the figures, the majority of the people who participate in, about 89 percent, are willing to fight corruption. So this is an important start and what is missing here is an organisation like us, Transparency, to go out publicly and tell the people these are the avenues they can make use of.

DW: In terms of fighting it, do we have examples of people asked by public servants for a bribe and then walking away and refusing?

DF: Well, the survey shows that some people are actually refusing to pay bribes when they were demanded. And that in itself shows that some people are already aware that bribery is corruption. And this is what people should do when they're demanded to pay a bribe to obtain a service.

DW: So government efforts to combat corruption are ineffective. What should they do as far as transparency is concerned?

DF: Our main concern as an organisation is trying to eradicate in the Solomon Islands. It's best for the government to come up with the best approach that is effective. Our call now is to reform the current legislation, like the leadership commission that deals with the misconduct of leaders. We understand that we do have various loopholes within our laws that easily make this corruption happen.