In a surprisingly rainy Sydney, over 1200 people gathered last week for the Global Conference of the Extractives Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) – a multistakeholder effort bringing together stakeholders from government, civil society, oil, gas and mining companies and investors in support of transparency to help ensure citizens see the benefits from their country’s natural resources.
The 3rd Summer Institute kicked off on Tuesday, May 27 2013 with participants from over ten countries with diverse professional backgrounds, ranging from government, multilateral agencies and NGOs. Despite arriving from far away countries and some in the wee hours of the night, participants were fully engaged, ready to learn and contributed to lively discussions.
The Summer Institute is being offered at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at University of Southern California in partnership with the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania, the World Bank Institute’s Leadership and Governance Practice, and the World Bank’s External Affairs Operational Communications. The course primarily targets advisers in the public sector, civil society, senior development professionals and seasoned communication specialists who want to expand their network and strengthen critical competencies to provide implementation support to change agents and reform leaders in developing countries.
The Aid Transparency Initiatives and the focus on the use of country systems, emphasized in the Paris Declaration, encourage donors to publish what they fund and to use existing country public financial management systems. However, this focus on the how of development assistance somewhat distracts from the what. The bigger question really is why donors and governments focus on those particular areas and why those donors are the right partners to begin with.
A recently released Open Budget Survey conducted by the International Budget Partnership (IBP) ranked the Republic of Korea as the top performer in public participation in the budget process. With a score of 92, Korea rose to the top as the only country “that provides extensive opportunities for public participation” (IBP 2012). Of 100 countries surveyed, the average score for public participation in the budget process was 19 out of 100. IBP found that in many countries there are limited, if any, opportunities provided to the public for engagement in the budget process. So what is it about Korea that makes it an exception?
- public participation
- budget process
- medium-term expenditure framework
- public financial reporting
- Public Financial Management
- Public Sector and Governance
- East Asia and Pacific
- Korea, Republic of
- Fiscal transparency
- open government & transparency
- performance drivers
- Governance & Public Sector Management
Given Jed's post last week on thinking through performance incentives for health workers, and the fact that the World Bank is in the throes of a reform process itself, a fascinating new paper from Imran Rasul and Daniel Rogger on autonomy and performance based incentives in Nigeria gives us some other food for thought. In a nutshell, Rasul and Rogge
Listening to an expert discussion of the role of elected representatives in social accountability interventions at a recent event hosted by the Mwananchi Governance Programme and CIVICUS in Johannesburg on 16th May 2013, I was reminded of this quote by Joe Khamisi, a former Kenyan MP:
“Save, you may not see Parliament again”, one two-term Member liked to tell us. In many cases non-performers with deep pockets are preferred than stingy doers. “As much as possible, avoid your constituents in the first three years and show up only towards the last half of your term, with plenty of money!”
In response, a Member of Parliament (MP) from one of the countries where Mwananchi works said, “You need to put premium on leadership”. In other words, we should not expect leaders to deliver the change we want if society encourages them to pursue perverse incentives to attain and remain in office, and to achieve solutions to collective action problems.
Looking at the backgrounds of MPs in many countries in Africa, you find that some MPs have been activists in civil society, respected civil servants or faith leaders, often suggesting that things would be very different if it was them that were in office. This is a clear case of a common African saying ‘one finger forwards, four fingers backwards,’ reminding us how easy it is to criticise without examining ourselves. This is why it should not be surprising that again and again we find that when the ‘self-imagined’ leaders get into public office they are equally caught up in the quagmire of perverse incentives as their predecessors.
I attended a panel + booklaunch on the theme of ‘Citizens Against Corruption’ at the ODI last week. After all the recent agonizing and self-doubt of the results debate (‘really, do we know anything about the impact of our work? How can we be sure?’), it was refreshing to be carried away on a wave of conviction and passion. The author of the book, Pierre Landell-Mills is in no doubt – citizen action can have a massive impact in countering corruption and improving the lives of poor people, almost irrespective of the political context.
The book captures the experience of the Partnership for Transparency Fund, set up by Pierre in 2000. It summarizes experiences from 200 case studies in 53 countries. This has included everything from using boy scouts to stop the ‘disappearance’ of textbooks in the Philippines to introducing a new code of ethics for Mongolia’s judiciary. The PTF’s model of change is really interesting. In terms of the project itself:
- Entirely demand led: it waits for civil society organizations (CSOs) to come up with proposals, and funds about one in five
- $25k + an expert: the typical project consists of a small grant, and a volunteer expert, usually a retiree from aid agencies or governments, North and South. According to Pierre ‘the clue to PTF’s success has been marrying high quality expertise with the energy and guts of young activists’. (I’ve now added ‘Grey Wonks’ to my ‘Grey Panthers’ rant on why the aid world is so bad at making the most of older people).
- The PTF is tapping into a zeitgeist of shifting global norms on corruption, epitomised by the UN Convention Against Corruption (2003). The idea that ‘they work for us’ seems to be gaining ground.
- The PTF prefers cooperation to conflict – better to work with champions within the state (and there nearly always are some, if you can find them), than just to lob rocks from the sidelines (although some rock-lobbing may also be required).
- It also prefers action and avoids funding ‘awareness-raising’, ‘capacity building’ and other ‘conference-building measures.’
So what works? On the basis of the case studies (chapters on India, Mongolia, Uganda and the Philippines), and his vast experience of governance and corruption work, Pierre sets out a ‘stylized programme’ for the kinds of CSO-led initiatives that deliver the goods:
This week, I had the opportunity to discuss the rise of citizen participation in Morocco with Tarik Nesh-Nash. If the name means nothing to you, it’s time to discover the man behind it!
Tarik is 34 years old. He’s a computer engineer and is acutely aware of politics in his country. Youth, skills, and an understanding of the issues: Combine ingredients, mix well, and finish off with a generous dash of inventiveness. What you have is a young social innovator ready to revolutionize the role of citizens in his country.
Early 2011. The first buds of the Arab spring are about to bloom. The Moroccan people take to the streets to denounce social injustice, unemployment, and corruption and call for a genuine constitutional monarchy. In March, King Mohamed VI announces the launch of constitutional reforms. Several days later, Tarik launches Reforme.ma, a participatory platform he co-founded with another young computer engineer, Mehdi Slaoui Andaloussi. The platform will enable thousands of Moroccans to contribute to drafting the new constitution.
Bangladesh's economy is currently subject to probably the harshest test of resilience it has faced in recent memory. In the past, growth continued to be resilient despite several external shocks that slowed exports, remittance, and investment. Bangladesh’s resilience to global shocks came from strong fundamentals at the onset of the crisis, competiveness of exports and migrant labor, relatively under-developed and insulated financial markets, and a pre-emptive policy posture. Bangladesh has a robust disaster management capacity to deal with natural disasters, undertake rescue operations, and conduct post-disaster relief and rehabilitation.
It is now widely understood that achieving a sustained acceleration of GDP growth over the long term is a prerequisite for eradicating mass poverty. In most developing countries, fiscal policies, including expenditure and tax policies, provide some of the most feasible tools available to governments for achieving their development objectives. Hence the role of fiscal policies as instruments for promoting long term sustainable economic growth is of great importance, an issue that was discussed at the “Fiscal Policy, Equity and Long Term Growth” conference which took place at the IMF on April 21-22, 2013. What matters in this context is how fiscal policies are designed and implemented such that they affect the long term growth of the supply side of the economy, rather than as a tool of short run demand management. The quality of fiscal policy is of critical importance in this regard.
There is a large volume of academic research, both theoretical and empirical, on the effects of different aspects of fiscal policy on economic growth (Easterly and Rebelo, 1993; Gemmel, 2001; Moreno-Dodson, 2012; World Bank, 2007, etc to cite just a few). This research has yielded broad fiscal policy advice for developing countries. For example, governments should avoid excessive fiscal deficits and public debt, allocate budgets towards human capital development and public investment in infrastructure which provides “public goods and services” and levy taxes on as broad a base as possible without distorting incentives to save and invest.