New Zealand has regained its spot at the top of the world’s anti-corruption list.
The country is joint first with Denmark in Transparency International's 2016 Corruption Perception Index, with 90 points out of a possible 100.
The Index is an annual snapshot of the relative degree of corruption world-wide, by scoring and ranking the public sectors in countries from all over the globe.
"Our public sector agencies have focused successfully on developing processes that prevent corruption and these contribute to New Zealand's stand-out reputation for a trusted public sector" says Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) chair, Suzanne Snively.
New Zealand last topped the rankings in 2013 year but dropped to No.4 in last year’s list.
Justice Minister Amy Adams says it is an excellent score.
“The result reflects New Zealand’s zero-tolerance of bribery and corruption, and affirms our reputation as world leaders in this area,” says Ms Adams.
“The Government takes corruption seriously and we’ll continue to work to protect New Zealand’s reputation as a fair and transparent nation to live in and do business with.”
Ms Adams says recent anti-corruption initiatives pushed by the Government include introducing new bribery offences and increasing the penalties for bribery and corruption through the Organised Crime and Anti-corruption Legislation Act and fast-tracking the second phase of anti-money laundering reforms.
TINZ Patron Sir Don McKinnon says: "The score is an independent and objective assessment and is sending a clear message to anyone sceptical about the integrity of our public service.
“It's time to work harder and harvest the benefits of this authentic brand, to increase sales and profits creating jobs and widening the tax base to invest in essential services like education and healthcare."
TINZ says the lower-ranked countries in the index are plagued by untrustworthy and badly functioning public institutions like the police and judiciary. Even where anti-corruption laws are on the books, in practice they're often skirted or ignored.
But the organisation warns that even high-scoring countries can't afford to be complacent. It says that while the most obvious forms of corruption may not scar citizens' daily lives, the higher-ranked countries are not immune to closed-door deals, conflicts of interest, illicit finance, and patchy law enforcement that can distort public policy and exacerbate corruption at home and abroad.
Australia's ranking of 13 is unchanged from last year. The bottom three rankings in the 2016 Index are North Korea, South Sudan and Somalia.