It is a crisp winter morning and from my office window I can see the city outside. It appears black and white. White because of buildings made from limestone – which came from old mines now replaced by wine cellars. Black because of trees and their shadows across snow-covered streets, parks, and squares. But that is just the view from my window.
Hiking recently around Chartak in Uzbekistan’s Namangan Region, I was struck by the area’s natural beauty and literally (and figurately) got my second breadth. At 650 meters above sea level, this modest town in the Ferghana Valley enjoys evergreen alpine pastures and rocky panoramas, and is permeated by a constant supply of high-altitude fresh air and crystal-clear, mineral-rich waters.
Sustainable tourism can be an economic lifeline for many mountain communities and help create job opportunities for their young people – which is all the more important since three-quarters of people living in extreme poverty in Uzbekistan live in rural areas.
Victims of crime are among the most vulnerable groups in need of government services - from basic information to shelters, hotlines, health and psychological services, legal assistance, and more. Yet, support services are often inadequate or even unavailable, leaving victims feeling helpless and abandoned by the justice system. This brings a range of economic and social welfare costs that should be avoided.
But how do we prevent these negative, spillover effects?
Last week, a technical failure occurred at Bishkek’s Heat and Power Plant, leaving parts of the capital city temporarily without power and heat supply. People residing in buildings connected to the district heating system experienced very cold and uncomfortable conditions, made worse by the exceptionally harsh winter this year. While the specific causes of the incident are still being investigated, it seems clear that old equipment at the Plant which is being operated well beyond its shelf-life was behind the failure.
We know that the justice system dampens the business climate in many of the countries where we work. In Bank reports, national strategies, and in common parlance, we lament that poorly performing courts delay business activity, undermine predictability, increase risks and constrain private sector growth. Going further, we conclude that weak justice systems disproportionately hamper micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) because they have less buffer to absorb these problems - which can become make-or-break for their businesses.
So that’s the ‘what’ but, precisely, how, do courts impact businesses?