Home' acuity : Acuity Sept 14 Contents Snively has a unique perspective
on NZ’s development. As a young
economist from California she arrived
in NZ around 35 years ago, attracted
by the idea of a successful economy
where – at that time – unemployment
numbers were in the hundreds.
She liked NZ so much that she stayed,
and pursued a career as an economist
and now – in semi-retirement – as a
“It gave me an outsider’s appreciation
of NZ which is interesting in my current
role with Transparency International,”
“ This is a high trust society. The
public sector is consistently ranked
among the least corrupt in the world.
I met a senior police chief who said he
had never ever once been offered any
inducements or bribes.
“But while this is all really good
and positive, there’s also a real lack of
formal processes in place and explicit
methods of fighting corruption and
keeping things as high trust.”
Some of this is changing. Snively
points to changes in the registering of
beneficial interests in companies, and the
introduction of the Organised Crime and
Anti-Corruption Bill in the NZ Parliament
in June as significant steps forward.
“We’ve been pushing for this for 11
years or so,” she says. “It finally allows
us to ratify the UN Convention against
Corruption and fully comply with other
international measures such as the
OECD Anti-Bribery Convention.
“But the fact remains that an awful
lot of NZ businesses do not have codes
of conduct even now.
“You think that would be a no
brainer, so there are processes which
we need open debate on and NZ
business needs to be more embracing
of these sorts of things.”
By some measures, NZ’s “grey
economy” is worth around NZ$20b, or
as much as 10% of GDP.
Snively quantifies seven benefits to
NZ of being a “high trust” society.
Firstly is “brand value” for NZ. Where
Tourism New Zealand has its “100% pure”
branding it is a marketing catchphrase
the country has given to itself: NZ’s
reputation for transparency comes not
from NZ but from international bodies
such as the IMF and the WHO.
Secondly, the lack of “facilitation”
payments, which can be up to 35% in
some Asian countries, means that NZ is
a cheaper place to do business.
“ The OECD average is that between
10% and 22% of business costs are due
to corruption or facilitation payments,
these,” says Snively.
“I don’t think this is something
we have factored into our
Third is the ease with which NZ
companies can gain access to other
“Because we are trusted, other
countries want to do business with us.”
Fourth is more theoretical. NZ
companies, says Snively, should be
paying a “lower cost of capital” in
recognition of, and as a reward for,
The fifth advantage is return on
investment. Ethical companies, she
says, continue to deliver positive ROI
even through difficult economic times.
“During the global financial crisis
capital flowed to ethical companies.
We need to highlight this aspect of our
economy to really help our sharemarket.”
At advantage number six is Snively’s
point that customers prefer to buy
from ethical companies, and at number
seven, that staff prefer to work for them.
“People make deliberate choices
on these things and transparency and
integrity matter,” she says.
“I really believe we have a significant
window of opportunity with this,
because integrity can lead to peace,
prosperity and jobs, and that is what
everyone wants to look forward to.”
Chartered Accountants Australia and
New Zealand, via NZICA, is a member of
a business “integrity group” established
in New Zealand in June that includes
Transparency International, the Serious
Fraud Office, ExportNZ, Deloitte,
Chapman Tripp, BusinessNZ, and the
New Zealand Institute of Directors.
The group will offer training to
businesses in how to recognise and
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acuity | SEPTEMBER 2014
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