Discussions around corruption and who benefits from its extreme existence are common topics in the Maldives. While corruption exists to some level in every country, the level of corruption that takes place in such a small island nation like the Maldives might be shocking to anyone who is not from the Maldives.
To those residing in the Maldives, however, corruption is an everyday conversation. Whether you’re applying for a job, housing or even healthcare, you have to consider many factors, and in the Maldives corruption is one of them. The most common discussion around corruption takes place when it comes to organizations hiring staff. It is not surprising to anyone when particular members of senior staff from the company or even Government offices are favoured and jobs are given through nepotism rather than a qualifications.
This level of corruption has left many with a degree and master’s level qualifications unemployed or even working at entry-level jobs as they have no other choice as higher positions are more often filled with nepotism hires.
But this is not the only level of corruption that takes place in the Maldives. Taking a deeper look at everything from elections, Government activities to healthcare priorities will tell you one thing - corruption exists at every single level in this country. One such proof is that during every single election, the losing end always accuses the winner of cheating their way to the position. And while it might be easy to dismiss such accusations, when it comes to this country, there may be some hint of truth in those accusations.
If we take a look at the latest primary election that was held, similar accusations were made and as there was high tension and accusations of ballot boxes being broken-into, it can get hard to trust which party is telling the truth.
In order to calculate the corruption level by country, Transparency International created a Corruption Perception Index (CPI) which shows how corrupt each country’s public sector is perceived to be. And while Maldives may be a small nation, the country is ranked 85 in a list of 185 countries. This CPI index covers 10 main areas:
● Diversion of public funds
● Officials using their public office for private gain without facing consequences
● Ability of governments to contain corruption in the public sector
● Excessive red tape in the public sector which may increase opportunities for corruption
● Nepotistic appointments in the civil service
● Laws ensuring that public officials must disclose their finances and potential conflicts of interest
● Legal protection for people who report cases of bribery and corruption
● State capture by narrow vested interests
● Access to information on public affairs/government activities
This CPI index includes 180 countries that have high levels of corruption each year, and Maldives has had a 40/100 score on this scale since 2021. This means that corruption levels in the Maldives have not gotten better in the past two years, and only next year’s index may show whether it has gotten worse or not in recent times.
With this CPI index showing the failure of countries to stop corruption taking place at every single level, there are some measures that Transparency International advises the Government to take in order to reduce the level of corruption.
● Pass the Asset Declaration Bill to hold politicians and government employees accountable and put in place a complete system of disclosure of financial statements to prevent undue wealth, misuse of public resources and purchasing of votes.
● Make it easier to get up-to-date information on corruption, and how public money and resources are spent and used, also to increase the capacity and resources required to investigate and prosecute cases within a reasonable time in the state institutions.
● To implement the Protection of Whistleblowers as well as those who fight against human trafficking and make human rights defenders accountable, including the government.
Corruption in the Maldives is definitely no surprise, but the failure at the Government level to take action and minimise the level of corruption taking place in such a small country is of concern. With so many of the precautionary measures as well as the CPI index revolving around corruption taking place on a Government level, one must wonder how much the Government is doing to minimise these issues.