Syndicate content

Add new comment

Submitted by Junaid Ahmad on

Shanta and Jishnu -- the dialogue format is an excellent way of debating and discussing complex issues. Both of you have done a wonderful job of leaving us with many issues to dissect and assess. Many thanks. Let me pick up one of the issues -- Shanta's idea that often our responsibility is to provide information that citizens can use to hold their governments to account. Economists have done a wonderful job of showing how improving the way information flows can make markets work better. But, the linkage between public service delivery, accountability of governments and the availability of information is not so straight forward. In a particular, without ensuring that systems of voice and client power -- to borrow concepts from the 2004 WDR framework -- which link citizens to governments and clients to service providers -- the simple availability of information will not be sufficient to trigger the type of accountability that Shanta hopes to see emerge. I have worked on benchmarking of utilities and municipalities in many regions. We found, not surprisingly, that information about performance about utilities and local governments had much greater impact in a context where service beneficiaries and citizens had effective mechanisms of holding providers and the state accountable. Information plays a key role, for sure, but outside the context of shifts in the way institutions function -- a point Jishnu makes -- information alone cannot deliver to poor people. I fear that in a world of dysfunctional institutions only a chief economist has the luxury of bypassing the state!!