“The vision is simple – a Corrupt Free Samoa”

"We must strive to be known as a nation with integrity. It’s hard, but not impossible.."

Photo by Government of Samoa (Leaosā Faaifo Faaifo)

Prime Minister’s Address at the Launching of Samoa’s First Anti-Corruption Policy. (13 June 2024, Tanoa Hotel)

I am delighted to address you all this morning on this momentous occasion, the launch of Samoa’s first anticorruption policy and I would like to greet you with the PSC greeting “Talofa with a Smile!”.

Samoa’s accession to the United Nation’s Convention Against Corruption in 2018, was in recognition of the long-standing issue of corruption that is present in all countries irrespective of wealth or location on the world.

Photo by Government of Samoa (Leaosā Faaifo Faaifo)

In the Pacific region and even in Samoa, we know and understand the threat corruption poses to the development of our small island economies and the cohesiveness and stability of our communities.

Often, we see corruption as a technical problem with unclear parameters, particularly when viewed in light of our culture and local context. Given the insidious nature of corruption, the costs of inaction are high.

The UN Secretary General in his remarks on International Anticorruption Day in 2018 said that corruption “robs societies of schools, hospitals, and other vital services, drives away foreign investment and strips nations of their natural resources”.

Samoa continues to make notable strides in its commitment to fully realize the global, regional and national agendas for sustainable development. The Anti-corruption policy reflects the steps taken to strengthen governance/accountability mechanisms, and build institutional and agencies capacities to combat corruption through enhanced prevention and deterrence measures.

If implemented right, this Policy will ensure our systems work, and provide a roadmap to further strengthen good governance, leadership, and integrity in Samoa.

The vision is simple – a corrupt free Samoa. We must strive to be known as a nation with integrity. It’s hard, but not impossible. At the heart of it all are accountable, citizen-focused, institutions at all three levels of government; the Executive level, the Judiciary, and Parliament; the latter being at the very peak of our democratic system.

Samoa is the Home of Taula. Enjoy responsibly.

Independent integrity institutions, free of political interference, is an important layer of any anti-corruption institutional framework. That is why the Government has directed existing integrity organizations such as 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. It has the constitutional mandate to both oversee government and to hold government to account. It 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 a Leadership Code for the political level and finding solutions to the issue of culture and corruption in elections is acknowledgement that technical solutions are not enough, to address corruption.

Most essential of all is having Political Leadership that must observe the standards of integrity, transparency, and accountability required of good governance practices. Without this political will at the highest level, anti-corruption efforts would always struggle to succeed and produce desired outcomes.

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

Colleagues, the success of this Policy rests on all of us. Parliament, the Judiciary, Executive Government, private sector, civil society, our communities, and our development partners. We are also mindful and grateful for the important role of the media in holding government accountable for their actions, and inactions. Hence the continuing pursuit for easier public access to official information through the development of the ‘right to information’ framework.

Now that the Policy is done the next step is to ensure early implementation and adequately resourcing the implementers so that they can effectively operate independently and without fear of reprisals or intimidation in the course of their roles and responsibilities.

Internationally, Samoa has had 2 reviews done by 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 our Crimes Act to strengthen anticorruption measures.

To conclude, let me express our appreciation to the UNDP and UNODC, the Government of Australia and all our development partners, for the technical support towards this work. I also thank our valued stakeholders, particularly our Sui o Nuu and Sui Tamaitai, Council of Churches, Private Sector, Regional partners, and all Government agencies who contributed to Samoa’s Anticorruption Policy.

Soifua ma ia manuia.

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