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Governance

About Development Economics

Shanta Devarajan's picture

UPDATE (May 15th, 2012) Caroline Freund, World Bank Chief Economist for the Middle East and North Africa has joined the debate. See her remarks.

The Chief Economists of all the regions where the World Bank implements programs got together recently to exchange thoughts about the current state of development economics.

You can read a summary of our views related to Africa, South Asia, and Europe and Central Asia here. 

And we hope you can participate in this debate by sharing your own views via the comments section below.  

Building Accountability in Tanzania: Applying an Evolutionary/Venture Capitalist Theory of Change

Duncan Green's picture

I’ve been catching up on our accountability work in Tanzania recently, and it continues to be really ground-breaking. Rather than churning out the standard logical framework of activities, outputs and predicted outcomes before the project even starts, the programme, known as Chukua Hatua (Swahili for ‘take action’) uses an evolutionary model of change (try out numerous approaches, drop the less successful ones, scale up and develop the winners). It’s more like a venture capitalist backing ten start-up firms knowing that most will fail, but some will win big. This has been possible partly because DFID has been willing to fund such an experimental approach as part of its ‘Accountability in Tanzania’ (AcT) programme (props to them).

18 months into the programme, it’s good to see that Chukua Hatua is, errmm, evolving, according to programme coordinator Jane Lonsdale.

The first phase piloted six approaches:

Moving the Needle on Healthier Environments and Sustainable Development

Rachel Kyte's picture

Over the past few days of the World Bank/IMF spring meetings, it’s been exciting to see just how much interest and real commitment there is among the world’s finance ministers to move toward inclusive green growth and sustainable development.

Several finance ministers at the Rio breakfast with Ban Ki-moon, Bob Zoellick, and Christine Lagarde talked about the need for better national wealth measurements that incorporate natural resources. Some were already implementing new forms of natural capital accounting. Others wanted to know more.

They were absolutely clear about two things: They want better methodology, data, and evidence to help guide them on the path to sustainable development, and they see a clear role for the World Bank as a source of that knowledge.

Can global headwinds slow down Mexico’s economy?

Paloma Anós Casero's picture

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Uncertainty surrounding the global economy remains high. Despite relative calm in the markets, several black clouds are on the global economic horizon in 2012, with potentially serious consequences for Mexico, depending on how complicated the global situation becomes.

Nurturing a Culture of Integrity?

Maya Brahmam's picture

At the World Bank Spring Meetings last week, there was a very interesting discussion, moderated by Femi Oke, on the topic of “Investment, Infrastructure, and Integrity,” On the panel were a few worthies from the private sector, Karan Bhatia, of General Electric, Peter Solmssen of Siemens AG, and Julio Rojas of Standard Chartered Bank, along with Rashad Kaldany and Janmitra Devan of the World Bank. They were joined by the Minister of Finance of Indonesia, Agus Martowardojo, and the Secretary of Finance of the Philippines, Cesar Purisima.

The issue is a prickly one: How to promote clean business in large infrastructure projects? It is unavoidable for the World Bank, the private sector and governments to be involved in infrastructure, so it is essential that the reputation of the infrastructure sector be tied to integrity. At the same time, the response to corruption has to be pragmatic. The challenge is to figure out the balance and respond appropriately and make “risk-based” decisions, versus “rules-based” decisions. The panelists alluded to the role of knowledge and the open dissemination of knowledge on private-sector business dealings and in government contracting and procurement to spur accountability and governance in this arena. There was agreement that the World Bank’s open agenda would be helpful in pushing this forward.

The panel was asked to share their individual “principles” to achieve integrity.

Leaders of UN, World Bank, IMF Discussing Sustainable Development with Finance Ministers

Rachel Kyte's picture

This year, the World Bank’s spring meetings are offering a rare opportunity for the heads of the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the IMF to jointly talk to finance ministers from around the world about the critical importance of inclusive green growth and careful stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources.

The venue is a breakfast meeting this morning with over 30 national finance ministers. The meeting will be private – and powerful. We’re hoping for an open and frank discussion among ministers on how to achieve concrete outcomes at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, in June.

International Trade Can Help Africa Grow

Daniel Lederman's picture

Africa tradeOptimism about Africa’s future is no longer scarce. The continent’s growth has been exemplary in recent years. Yet it is just as easy to find signs of distrust in the global economy. 

Multilateral agencies insist that international integration offers opportunities for accelerating economic growth. Official parlance has become tame since the heyday of structural reforms in the early 1990s, but they have found subtle ways to argue that trade is good. The World Bank recently launched “Defragmenting Africa,” providing an exhaustive and exhausting list of policies to increase international trade within the continent. 

Unsurprisingly the prescriptions can be costly. Removing import taxes might improve economic efficiency and enhance consumer welfare, but revenues can fall in countries with limited public resources. Although Africa harbors some of the highest trade taxes in the world (World Development Report 2009), the point is that there are tradeoffs. The same applies to policies that entail investments in infrastructure for “trade facilitation.” 

What would Africa get in return? 

Who benefits from fuel price subsidies?

Punam Chuhan-Pole's picture

Over half the countries in Sub-Saharan Africa subsidize fuel to protect consumers from high and volatile prices. But fuel subsidies are neither cheap nor likely to be sustainable (see the full analysis in the new Africa's Pulse). 

Data for 2010-11 show that fuel price subsidies consumed, on average, 1.4 percent of GDP in public resources: The fiscal cost in oil exporters was almost two-and-a-half times that in oil importers. In the face of high (and rising) world fuel prices, a number of countries have raised domestic prices to stem fiscal costs.  

For example, Ghana raised fuel prices by about 30 percent in January 2011. The Nigerian government removed the subsidy on gasoline this January, although a portion of the subsidy was subsequently reinstated.  With oil prices likely to remain elevated, fuel subsidies will continue to weigh on government budgets in Africa.

But who benefits from fuel price subsidies?  

Expenditure data for seven African countries show that the distribution of these subsidies is disproportionately concentrated in the hands of the rich.  Richer households spend a larger amount on fuel products, and, consequently, benefit more than poorer households from any universal subsidy on these products. On average the richest 20% receive over six times more in subsidy benefits than the poorest 20%. 

2012: Mega Election Year, Mega Chance for Journalists?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Close to 60 countries are planning elections this year. Close to 60 chances to change political fates, 60 occasions to uphold democracy by exercising democratic rights. The number of elections that will be truly fair and equal is likely to be lower. Election fraud or election irregularities are rampant problems, and sometimes voters complain about hurdles to free elections even in old democracies. We will learn and see a lot this year, and many new and old problems of electoral systems will come under renewed scrutiny. Election monitoring is an opportunity for development groups to have an impact – and sometimes it’s a matter of media development.

Getting to Sustainable Development, Inclusively and Efficiently

Rachel Kyte's picture

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Sustainable development is built on the triple bottom line: economic growth, environmental stewardship, and social development - or prosperity, planet, people. Without careful attention to all three, we cannot create a sustainable world.

In the 25 years since sustainable development was coined as a term, there has been progress, but the pathway to sustainable development must now be more inclusive green growth.


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