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 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?
About a month ago two colleagues (Greg Kisunko and Steve Knack) posted a blog on “The many faces of corruption in the Russian Federation”. Their post, based on the elegant analysis of the 2011/2012 Russian BEEPS, underscores a point that many practitioners and researchers are now beginning to appreciate because of the availability of new, disaggregated data: corruption is not a homogenous phenomenon, but rather a term that encompasses many diverse phenomena that can have profoundly different impact on the growth and the development of a country. If we delve deeper into this disaggregated data, we observe that within the same country can coexist significantly different sub-national realities when it comes to the phenomenon we label “corruption”.
What do discussions about aid modalities and institutional change have in common?
A lot, very little, would you expect them to? Clarifying these somewhat nebulous terms may be a first step to address this question.
An aid modality (or aid instrument), describes a way of delivering ODA. Different modalities are defined according to how funds are managed and disbursed: Is the funding ‘on budget’? Who signs off on the funding releases? The concept says nothing about the content of a given aid programme; it is purely concerned with the process used to transfer the funds. While budget support and project aid are the most common types of aid modality, the term also encompasses a host of other funding mechanisms, including funding for skills transfer.
Over the past two decades, citizen-led initiatives to hold power holders to account have taken the world by storm. The promise embedded in such efforts – that more enlightened and engaged citizens demanding greater accountability around issues that they care about can have a decisive impact in improving development effectiveness, the quality of (democratic) governance and the nature of state-society relations – has led to a mushrooming of transparency and accountability initiatives (TAIs). TAIs operating at the domestic, regional and/or international levels now cover a plethora of issues ranging from corruption, access to information, and budget processes, to natural resource management, service delivery, and aid.
With preparations for the G8 Summit in June in full swing, British Prime Minister David Cameron has made clear that transparency will be a key theme and within that a focus on transparency not just in the extractives sector but around land more broadly. This is in large part a response to concerns around the proliferation of large scale land acquisitions – the “land grab” phenomenon. Certainly that topic dominated discussion at the World Bank’s annual Land and Poverty conference this month.
BEYOND PAY AS MOTIVATOR
Pay reform has been a mainstay of our public sector practice over many years. We have encouraged governments to ‘decompress’ pay, paying more to senior staff whose relative contribution to the public service, we have argued, is not reflected in their pay packets. We have sponsored job evaluation exercises, so that pay is aligned more closely with duties. We have tried to link pay to some measure of performance.
Today marks the conclusion of the final meeting of the Global Thematic Consultation on Governance and the Post-2015 Development Framework, held in Johannesburg, South Africa.
There is no doubt that governance can be complicated. It has been subject to extensive analysis and explanation by a variety of experts, with a corresponding variety of definitions. Competing philosophies are based on not only assumptions about the intersection of economic and political management, but also the relevance of institutions to development outcomes. Measurement of such complex concept can be an awkward tool in the midst of such ambiguity.