Record Low: New Zealand slips to 3rd in latest Corruption Perceptions Index

New Zealand Security Magazine - February-March 2024

Corruption Perceptions Index
New Zealand's worst ever showing in Corruption Perceptions Index. Image: Transparency International.

Aotearoa New Zealand is now ranked third in the international corruption perceptions ranking prepared annually by Transparency International – its lowest ranking on record, and government procurement is to blame.


Since the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) was revised in 2012 New Zealand has been ranked first or first equal eight times. This 2023 index is the first time we have not been in the top two.

In the CPI, the higher the score the lower the perceived corruption. New Zealand’s score of 85/100 in 2023 means we now sit five points below Denmark on 90 (which has been ranked first for six years) and three below Finland on 88, which is in second place.

Aotearoa’s drop in score was primarily due to responses to the Executive Opinion Survey (EOS) undertaken by the World Economic Forum in 2023. This is one of the eight contributing surveys/assessments to the CPI.

The EOS asked respondents how common it was for businesses to make undocumented extra payments or bribes connected with trade, public utilities, tax payments or awarding of public contracts. It also asked how common it was for public funds to be diverted to companies, individuals or groups due to corruption.

“… despite improvement in transparency of public tendering platforms, much more effort is needed in improving the transparency of government spending and the governance of public infrastructure projects if community trust is to be sustained.”

While New Zealand is still given a positive tick by most executives, the survey responses in 2023 indicate reduced business leader confidence in government integrity systems.

“While New Zealand remains among the least corrupt countries in the world, the reduction in our points and drop in ranking is a reminder that complacency is not an option in our battle against corruption,” said Anne Tolley, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand.

“The decline in the confidence of the business community is particularly troublesome. Maintaining low levels of corruption is essential for our economy and for our values of fairness and accountability.”

“There were a number of high-profile prosecutions during the last year in areas such as fraud, tax evasion and COVID subsidy related fraud prosecutions,” said Julie Haggie, CEO of Transparency International New Zealand. This could point both to systems that are working as well as poor integrity systems that are enabling it to occur.

“New Zealanders have also seen a huge rise in scamming without sufficient response. People want to know that integrity systems are holding up against corrupt practices. And, despite improvement in transparency of public tendering platforms, much more effort is needed in improving the transparency of government spending and the governance of public infrastructure projects if community trust is to be sustained.

“Our economy is under stress due to many factors. When times are tough people are keener to know where revenue is spent, and whether everyone is paying their fair share and having the same opportunities,” Ms Haggie said.

Babcock
RiskNZ