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Europe and Central Asia

Higher revenue, easier filing for taxpayers in Armenia

Julia Oliver's picture


Photo credit: Dmitry Karyshev

Armenia was faced with a slowing economy, sinking remittances, and inefficient tax administration. At the same time, ordinary taxpayers had to navigate arduous processes when paying taxes. The Armenian government was eager to reform its tax administration. Below is a transcript of what we learned when we spoke to World Bank experts working with Armenian tax officials to make things better.
 
Julia: I’m Julia Oliver.
 
Maximilian: I’m Maximilian Mareis.
 
Julia: And we have been talking with tax experts around the World Bank to find out about what they do.
 
Maximilian: So, let’s start with this project in Armenia. Why did we get involved?

Julia: Well, the global financial crisis hit Armenia and its three million people pretty hard. In 2012, when the World Bank began working with policymakers to improve the country’s tax administration, the country faced a pretty bleak picture. Foreign remittances were low, and the domestic economy was slowing. In addition the country had high levels of informal employment.

Research rigor and risks: Investigating gender-based violence in the European refugee crisis

Throughout the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, we celebrate the strides made since the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. Despite significant advances in programming and policy, gender-based violence remains pervasive, especially in crisis-affected populations. The ongoing conflict in Syria and the risks of gender-based violence for Syrian refugees challenge us as a global community to focus our attention and intensify our efforts and activism against gender-based violence.
 
Photo: Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International

The 16 Days of Activism campaign also allows us to reflect on the important role of research in activism. Without rigorous research, activism against gender-based violence may be misguided or misaligned with individual or community perceptions and needs.
 
What is meant by rigorous research?

Rigorous research has been defined as research that applies the appropriate research tools to investigate a set of stated objectives. While some researchers may argue that quantitative research methodologies generate more rigorous data, using this definition we can see that qualitative research methodologies can also generate rigorous data to inform programming, policy and activism.

Our project, funded by the World Bank Group and Sexual Violence Research Initiative Development Marketplace for Innovations to Prevent Gender-Based Violence, aims to do just that—generate rigorous data using qualitative research methodologies to better understand the gender, social, and cultural norms that contribute to intimate partner violence among Syrian refugees. Women and Health Alliance (WAHA) International in collaboration with academic and organizational partners in Turkey and Greece will collect data using focus group discussions and participatory action learning activities in order to inform future interventions targeting intimate partner violence among displaced populations.

How to tackle a growing HIV epidemic with limited resources?

Clemens Benedikt's picture

An experience from Belarus on how allocative efficiency analysis changed HIV budgets

Belarus’ HIV response is faced with the need to provide treatment to a larger number of people living with HIV than ever before and to simultaneously continue scaling up prevention. How to do this in a context of limited resources, poses a major challenge for any planner. Most recent HIV estimates from Belarus illustrate the rapidly growing challenge. UNAIDS estimated that the number of PLHIV in Belarus increased from 5,600 in the year 2000 to 35,000 in 2015. New HIV infections increased from 1,700 per year in 2000 to 2,600 in 2010 and then doubled again to reach 5,300 in 2015.

Nine takeaways from the 2015 Trends in International Math and Science Study Results

Marguerite Clarke's picture
The highest performing countries are paying extra attention to the quality of their teachers. (Photo: Dominic Chavez / World Bank)

The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) released the results of its latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) yesterday, November 29. TIMSS 2015 assessed more than 600,000 students in grades four, eight, and the final year of secondary school across 60 education systems.

The Russian economy inches forward

Apurva Sanghi's picture

During the four months that I have been based in Moscow, one truism about Russia has stood out for me: There is a hunger to know what “truly” goes on in the world’s largest country (by area) and its economy. So any report we publish on Russia gets a lot of attention, and our latest Russia Economic Report is no exception. While we analyzed and discussed many economic issues, here are three noteworthy ones.

Improving fairness, opportunity and empowerment: A view from the South Caucasus

Genevieve Boyreau's picture
I was quite intrigued by the findings of the latest Europe and Central Asia Economic Update, with its special focus on "Polarization and Populism". As Program Leader for the South Caucasus region, covering Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, I was particularly interested in the fact that these three countries report the highest levels of life and job dissatisfaction, despite declining disparities and overall income improvement in the region (in Georgia, for instance). Indeed, using the World Bank’s "twin goal” metrics, the South Caucasus region has been performing reasonably well.

Metropolitan development is central to Romania’s economic development

Marcel Ionescu-Heroiu's picture
Metropolitan development is important for Romania’s growth. An analysis prepared by the World Bank for the Romanian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Administration (MRDPA) indicates that Romania’s eight largest metropolitan areas (Bucharest, Brașov, Cluj-Napoca, Constanța, Craiova, Iași, Ploiești and Timișoara) concentrate 50 percent of Romania’s population and generate 75 percent of firm revenues in the country.

Metropolitan areas are the economic engines of a country, and if these engines do not work well, neither does the economy as a whole. Unfortunately, in Romania, these engines do not function properly, highlights another World Bank analysis prepared for MRDPA. There are only a few cities that have a functional metropolitan public transport system (e.g. Alba Iulia, Cluj-Napoca), few cities that have prepared spatial plans for the metropolitan area (e.g. Brăila, Brașov, Craiova), and even fewer that have managed to implement projects at the metropolitan level (e.g. Constanța).

What are some of the challenges facing metropolitan areas in Romania?

First-ever Global Conference on Sustainable Transport: What is at stake?

Nancy Vandycke's picture

On November 26, 2016, UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon will convene the first-ever Global Conference on Sustainable Transport, in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. What is at stake in this capstone two-day event? What fresh developments might it yield, and how might it change the dynamics for transport?
 
The new transport agenda. A number of earlier high-level events—including the UN Climate Action Summit, the OECD/International Transport Forum, and the Habitat III Conference—helped give a long-needed boost to the visibility of transport in the international arena in 2016. The events also helped position transport within the current set of global commitments that include the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris climate agreement, the Decade of Action on Road Safety, and the Habitat III New Urban Agenda. The forthcoming Ashgabat event will put front and center one simple notion: for the next 15 years, the transport agenda will be framed by that set of global commitments. The commitments define the space within which governments, international organizations, the private sector, and civil society will have to act on transport. And they will dictate the future size and direction of transport funding.
 
This is a paradigm shift. Previously, the transport agenda was defined by the goal of providing access to transport infrastructure. Under the new framework, the international community has committed itself to much more. First, the issue is no longer simply access but equitable access for all. Second, other, equally important objectives have been added, including the efficiency and reliability of mobility services, transport safety, and decarbonization. In sum, the internationally accepted transport agenda concerns more than economic and social development; it is also about being part of the climate change solution.

How to climb the Open Data maturity ladder: lessons from Europe

David Mariano's picture

Editor’s note: This is a guest blog from Jorn Berends and Wendy Carrara on behalf of the European Data Portal. The indicator “Open Data readiness” mentioned in the analysis below is unrelated to the Open Data Readiness Assessment tool developed by the World Bank.

The majority of European countries are improving their Open Data maturity

Open Data is taking off in Europe. Open Data – which refers to publicly available data that is free for all to use – is set to have a monumental impact on societies in the upcoming years, and has a potential market size for the European Union of 75.7 bn EUR by 2020. European countries seem to be on track to reap the potential of Open Data, although a lot of work remains to be done and substantial differences persist between countries. In 2016, with a 28.6% increase compared to 2015, the EU28 and Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein – referred to as EU28+ –  completed over 55% of their Open Data journey. This shows that, by 2016, a majority of the EU28+ countries have successfully developed a basic approach to address Open Data. This is just one of the conclusions of the 2016 Open Data Maturity in Europe report, prepared by the European Data Portal. What can this report tell us on the countries that are doing particularly well in this regard, what is it that makes them European champions? Furthermore, what can other countries learn from them?

Spain and France are leading the way in Europe, but substantial differences persist

The measurement is built on two key indicators ‘Open Data Readiness’ and ‘Portal Maturity’, thereby covering the level of development of national activities promoting Open Data as well as the level of development of the country’s national data portal. Based on these indicators, the European countries are clustered into four different levels of Open Data maturity: Beginners, Followers, Fast Trackers and Trend Setters.

 

Positive competition drives better performance

Georgia Harley's picture
We all know that people respond to incentives.
 
Even in the public sector – where pay and conditions are often fixed – there is a growing body of research demonstrating how public sector institutions can systematically motivate their staff to perform better.  (If you’re interested, see a sampling here, here, here, and here and of course the World Development Report: Mind, Society and Behavior.) 

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