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Governance

Stepping up prosecution of transnational bribery

The OECD Antibribery Convention requires parties to make promising, offering, or giving a bribe to an official of another government a crime. Although 38 countries have ratified the convention, Transparency International reports that as of the end of 2009 only seven are actively enforcing this provision. Another nine are making some effort to enforce it and have taken few if any steps to enforce the convention.

How can we compensate the victims of bribery?

Jean Pierre Brun's picture

In early 2009, the U.S.-based multinational Halliburton paid $579 million to the U.S. government to settle charges it had bribed Nigerian officials to win a contract.  In late 2008 the German telecommunications giant Siemens paid $1.6 billion in fines, penalties and disgorgement of profits to the German and American governments for bribing officials. 

Information Sharing: A Difficult Question of Timing


I believe that timeliness is key in the sharing of information.  If criminal information about suspects is not shared with those who need to know in a timely manner, this can result in crimes being committed that could have been prevented or once-in-a-lifetime investigative opportunities being lost. 

In the field of fraud and corruption and in our context, the failure to share information in a timely manner can result in funds continuing to leak that could have been put to use to the benefit of society and  overburdened countries and taxpayers picking up the bill for products and services that they have not received, are incomplete or are hugely overpriced.

The question I want to raise is whether and how we can share information at a sufficiently early stage. 

Can Africa trade with Africa?

Obiageli Ezekwesili's picture

Obiageli Ezekwesili chairs the seminar: Can Africa Trade with Africa? (Photo: Arne Hoel, The World Bank)

I chaired a very lively seminar on Friday afternoon that focused on the question, “Can Africa Trade with Africa?”  The answer was a resounding yes. 

Today, there is strong consensus among African leaders that regional integration is indispensable to unlock economies of scale and sharpen competitiveness. And promoting intra-African trade has emerged as a top priority, in recognition that the African market of one billion consumers can be a powerful engine for growth and employment.

Yet despite the introduction of free trade areas, customs unions, and common markets within the Region, the level of intra-African trade remains among the lowest in the world -- only about 10% of African trade is within the continent, compared to about 40% in North America and about 60% in Western Europe.

Still waiting for that new road to come your way?

Jan Walliser's picture

Anyone who has ever been to the Central African Republic (CAR) knows that the country has huge infrastructure needs after years of internal turmoil and strife. But when you look up how much of the government’s investment budget actually was implemented and financed infrastructure development in 2009 for instance, you find a stunningly low execution rate of 5 percent.

Mapping the development aid landscape: www.aidflows.org

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture

Aidflows shows the total volume of aid coming from OECD members and the total being received by developing countries.

As we heard last month during the MDG Summit at the United Nations, progress has been made but much work remains if we are to come close to halving poverty or reaching other targets we all agreed to in 2000. These issues are very much at the center of the Bank-IMF Annual Meetings this week in Washington.


Making development aid more accountable, transparent and effective is at the heart of this week’s discussions. New partnerships and players are emerging. Donor and client governments, along with their constituents, are demanding measurable results.  That said, it is challenging to measure aid when there are multiple channels and types of assistance, from bilateral to multilateral, from loans to trust funds, and the data generated is not always presented in a comparable way.

From goals to achievements

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's picture

Almost two thirds of developing countries reached gender parity at the primary school level by 2005. Maternal mortality rates have dropped by a third. As many as 76 developing nations are on track to reach the goal of access to safe drinking water. 

The statistics tell us there is a clear path to achieving the goals.  So in New York, the focus should be on action and the next concrete steps to turning the goals from paper targets to reality. Given a decade has passed, the time for just more talk has also passed. 

Aid effectiveness = working together

Axel van Trotsenburg's picture


 

It’s been 10 years since the World Bank signed on to the Millennium Development Goals. At the time, I managed the Bank's HIPC initiative, providing debt relief for the most heavily indebted countries, and I remember the hope we all felt.  I am now responsible for IDA—the World Bank’s fund for 79 of the poorest countries, for whom the MDGs are critical, and I can say that our commitment to these goals remains as strong today, if not stronger. 

We have made considerable progress on many of the goals. Growth over the past decade has contributed to reductions in extreme poverty.  In 1990, over 40 percent of the population in developing countries lived on less than $1.25 per day.  By 2005, that share fell to roughly 25 percent and is expected to fall to 15 percent by 2015, more than meeting the goal to halve extreme poverty. 

Words are not enough this week in New York

Tamar Manuelyan Atinc's picture

As the global summit gets off and running in New York to look at progress toward the Millennium Development Goals, we have a great deal to celebrate. At the same time, we have some big challenges ahead in order to realize the promise of the goals: a world that overcomes poverty and hunger, where all citizens have access to opportunity and hope.

On the celebration side: 30 years ago, 52 percent of people in developing countries lived in extreme poverty; by 2005, that share had been cut by more than half. In Africa before the triple blow of the food, fuel and financial crises in 2008, primary school enrollment rates were rising faster than in any other continent, and child mortality rates had fallen by 25 percent in about 13 countries in just 4 years.
 

World Bank reforming to meet new challenges

Angie Gentile's picture

October 6, 2009 - Istanbul, Turkey. World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings 2009. Opening plenary session.

The World Bank is pursuing an ambitious program of reform to enable the institution to become more efficient and effective while also gaining more legitimacy among the developing countries that it serves, Bank President Robert Zoellick said today.

In a speech at the start of the World Bank-IMF annual meetings, Zoellick said the World Bank’s reforms would focus on improving development effectiveness, promoting accountability and good governance, and continuing to increase cost efficiency.

“To serve the changing global economy, the world needs agile, nimble, competent, and accountable institutions,” Zoellick told the meeting of the Board of Governors of the World Bank Group. “The World Bank Group will improve its legitimacy, efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability, and further expand its cooperation with the UN, the IMF, the other Multilateral Development Banks, donors, civil society, and foundations which have become increasingly important development actors.”

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