Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare has encouraged politicians to use the country’s poor worldwide perception on corruption as a challenge, while telling Parliament the island nation is actually “not that bad”.
Mr Sogavare is set to visit Port Moresby for talks with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill this week as part of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.
Although there is no specific agenda, SIBC’s Distaem Nao program announced this morning the topic of free trade is expected to be discussed.
Mr Sogavare is set to return on March 19, and Parliament is adjourned until March 28.
Before he set off for Papua New Guinea’s capital Mr Sogavare addressed the ongoing debate around the Anti-Corruption bill, denying there was a split in the Coalition for Change over the bill.
Instead he urged politicians to remain committed.
“We are serious about the fight, contrary to what people are saying about us,” he told Parliament on Friday.
“We, the 50 of us, are determined to be champions in the fight against corruption.
“We realise it is not an easy fight because of the complications posted by our human weaknesses, but we are determined to take it through.
“I feel offended when the international community tells us we rank quite high in the corruption perception indices. I don’t want that.
“Take it as a challenge and prove to the world that we are not what the indices are telling them.
“We are not that corrupt. We are not that bad. It happens, but not as bad as what the statistics are telling us.”
The Solomon Islands is ranked 72nd out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2016 Corrupution Perception Index.