Samoa Launches First Ever National Anti-Corruption Policy

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By: Jasmine Netzler-Iose, Government Press. Samoa has this week launched its first ever National Anti-Corruption Policy and Strategy in a ceremony held at Tanoa Tusitala Hotel on Friday morning.

The Government states the initiative aims to strengthen the trust of the general public in the Public Administration.

“The Samoan Government is serious about reducing and eliminating corruption across the country and to ensure a Corrupt Free Samoa”

The event was hosted by the Public Service Commission who was tasked with the compilation of the Samoa National Anti-Corruption Policy and Strategy (FY 24/25 –FY 28/29).

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa in the Policy’s Vision Statement filmed in a promotional video that was later shown after formalities stated that when her government came into Office in 2021 one of the key priorities was to strengthen integrity and good governance in the public administration and Samoa.

“We have articulated this in our national development strategy; the Pathway for the Development of Samoa 2021/2022 -2025/2026..

“To ensure national security and trusted governance, we will put into place specific measures for anti- corruption and to improve public accountability and public sector efficiency and productivity.”

This policy plays a crucial role to ensure corruption is combated in all its forms.

The Prime Minister says this national policy will contribute towards strengthening integrity, good governance, security and the rule of law in Samoa.

Chairman of the Samoa Coordinating Committee for the Convention against Corruption Nonu Saleimoa Vaai in his Statement of Commitment in the Policy states that NACP has been created as a good governance measure reflecting the people’s expectations and aspirations for Samoa to be a corrupt-free country.

“It provides the public policy direction and plan of action to contribute towards fulfilling such aspirations,” he adds.

“The policy communicates ‘our efforts to fight, prevent and address corruption in all its forms and manifestation across all sectors of Samoa””.

Prime Minister Fiame, in her keynote address said Samoa’s succession to the UN Convention against Corruption in 2018 recognises the long standing corruption that is present in all countries irrespective of wealth or location in the world.

Corruption is often seen as a ‘technical problem’ with ‘unclear parameters when viewed with our culture and local context’ said the Prime Minister.

However, “Given the Insidious nature of corruption the cost of inaction are high.”

THREATS OF CORRUPTION TO OUR COMMUNITIES

Quoting the United States Secretary General in his speech in 2018 celebrating Anti-corruption day Prime Minister Fiame said that corruption, “robs societies of schools, hospitals and other vital services, and drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources.”

However she pointed out that “Samoa continues to make notable strides in her commitment to fully realise the global, regional and national agendas for sustainable development.”

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This NACP ‘reflects steps taken to strengthen governance, accountability mechanisms and build institutional and agencies capacities to combat corruption through enhance prevention and deterrence measures, if implemented right’ she said.

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And ensure that “our systems work and provide a road map to further strengthen good governance leadership and integrity in Samoa. The vision is simple a corrupt free Samoa.”

BE A NATION OF INTEGRITY BY COMBINED EFFORTS

She urged Samoa to strive to be known as a nation with integrity.

“At the heart of it all are accountable citizen focused institutions at all three levels of government; the executive, judiciary the parliament and the latter being at the peak of our democratic system.”

Fiame said that, “Independent integrity institutions free of political interference is an important layer of any anti-corruption intuition framework.”

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And this is why the Government of Samoa has directed existing integrity organisations; the Public Service Commission, the Samoa Audit Office, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Office of the Attorney General, Police and others to start laying the foundation for the establishment of an integrity commission in the near future.

“The important role of parliament in ensuring the achievement of a corrupt Free Samoa must be underscored as it has the constitutional mandate to both oversee government and hold government to account,” says the Prime Minister.

Parliament is where laws are passed, permission to spend public funds on government policies is given, all the while remaining accountable to the public through Members of Parliament.

 

“The commitment to revisiting areas such as the development of leadership fold for the political level and finding solutions to the issue of culture and corruption in elections is acknowledgment that technical solutions are not enough to address corruption,” she said.

And that ‘having political leadership that must observe the standards of integrity, transparency and accountability required of good governance practices’.

She stressed that without this political will at the highest level, ‘anti-corruption efforts will also struggle to succeed and produce the desired outcomes’.

“e are also aware of the consequences of the absence of trust and confidence of people in their political leadership in governments or for that matter the diminished credibility of a country when engaging with partners that are trying to help.”

She called on all those in the room to work together to push for the success of this Policy.

“Colleagues, the success of this policy rests on all of us; the Parliament, the Judiciary, the Executive Government, Private Sector and Civil Society and our communities and our development partners.”

MEDIA AND ACCESS TO PUBLIC INFORMATION

The Prime Minister also acknowledged the media, being mindful and grateful for the important role they play in holding Government accountable for their actions and inactions.

“Hence the continuing pursuit for easier public access to public information through development of the Right to Information framework.”

With the national policy now complete, the next step is to ensure the implementers are adequately resourced so they can effectively operate independently and without fear of reprisal or intimidation of their roles and responsibilities.

The Prime Minister also revealed that internationally Samoa has two reviews done by the selected country teams, supported by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the UN Convention against corruption team with resultant outcomes recommending further legislative review of Samoa’s Crimes Act to strengthen our anti-corruption measures.

Fiame extended her appreciation to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UNODC, Government of Australia and all our Development Partners for their technical support towards this work.

“I also thank our valued stakeholders particularly Sui o nuu and Sui o tamaitai, the Council of Churches, the Private sector, Regional partners and all Government agencies that contributed towards this Anti-corruption Policy.”

Photos: Jasmine Netzler-Iose

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