Ministry of Forestry pledges its commitment to Anti-Bribery Goals

Media Team   |   08 Jul 2022

The Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) continues its nation-wide anti-bribery campaign and integrity efforts by embracing more stakeholders taking up the campaign and spreading the message of anti-bribery across the nation.

The Ministry of Forestry has become the latest Government Ministry to join the “I don’t accept bribes” campaign, a joint nationwide initiative by FICAC with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) under the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) project funded by the New Zealand Government.

The launch of the anti-bribery campaign took place in the presence of the Permanent Secretary of Forestry Mr. Pene Baleinabuli, Management of the Ministry and representatives from FICAC and UNDP on 7 July 2022 in Suva

Speaking at the launch, Manager Corruption Prevention Mrs. Kolora Celua stated that the nationwide public integrity and anti-bribery campaign is about bring long-term systemic governance change, which cannot be achieved without the commitment and action of all relevant stakeholders such as the Ministry of Forestry.

“Such important role and responsibility that you carry out here at the Ministry must never become an opportunity, gap or loophole for corruption to thrive at the Ministry,” said Mrs. Celua.

Mrs. Celua further emphasized that corruption, particularly scams in nature occur simply because the public in general do not have the right information with them, and the Ministry fails in its duty in that regard in not providing the right information to its customers.

“Because, in failing to provide right information to your customers, it is a loophole, it is a gap. And in matters of corruption and bribery, wherever there is a loophole or a gap, it is an opportunity that thrives for corrupt officials and corrupt activities particularly scam and bribery in nature,” added Mrs. Celua

UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Team Leader Effective Governance, Ms. Revai Makanje Aalbaek stated that the Ministry of Forestry has a crucial role and contribution to the efforts for climate change, mitigate and adaptation.

“In this light, bribery and corruption which must inevitably accompany it, must be seen as an attack on the social, economic but equally on the environmental values of societies,” added Ms. Aalbaek.

Ms. Aalbaek further added that Forests can be managed without compromising on decent jobs, long-term livelihoods and environmental sustainability.

“Climate change can be mitigated and biodiversity can be preserved by ensuring corruption-free management of trees and forests. To my mind, this is why our Anti-Bribery campaign – and the commitment you have all made by joining it – is so important. To make society and the economy sustainable, as well as the environment, and to ensure everyone has the opportunity of a fairer and more prosperous future, bribery must be banished, and all forms of corruption must be eliminated,” said Mrs. Aalbaek.

In her concluding remarks, Manager Corruption Prevention Mrs Kolora Celua urged the Managements of the Ministry to take ownership of the public integrity campaign including the series of training sessions that will follow suit.

“It is very important that the tone is set strongly from the top, and to be reinforced at all levels of the ministry. Help and encourage all your officers (including yourselves) to openly embrace integrity and to build a culture of resilience against the incitement to bribery, not only at institutional level, but in your personality and character, most importantly,” added Mrs. Celua

The campaign is supported by UNDP under the United Nations Pacific Regional Anti-Corruption (UN-PRAC) project funded by the New Zealand Government.