Perched on top a 60 meter column in a bustling square on the waterfront of Barcelona sits a magnificent statue of Christopher Columbus. With one hand clutching a map and the other pointing towards the horizon, the statue is the perfect image of a great explorer leading his fleet to the new world. History has been kind to Columbus and has bestowed on him the credit of discovering the new world.
Public management is a curious mix of uncertainty and dogma. Uncertainty — about how to structure public sector organizations, about how to link the budget to performance, about how to motivate employees — is quite appropriate given the weak theoretical basis and the even weaker empirics, and thus the frequent changes of direction on these topics are hardly surprising.
In my previous blog post, I talked about the political pressure caused by the very large number of unemployed youth in Nigeria. Without wanting to predict the future, I examined how this problem could either pose a systemic threat, or alternatively, create positive pressure on Nigeria’s leaders to start tackling the twin problems of unemployment and social exclusion.
There are several issues that I would like to comment on regarding the emerging WBG Public Sector Management (PSM) approach and point out the synergies between the OECD approach and the PSM one.
A great deal of the debate about strategies for public management reform in the developing and emerging economies of the world reminds me of debates in the Marxist movement at the start of the 20th century about whether or not countries had to go through certain “stages” of development.
The World Bank is updating its approach to public sector management. The aim is better World Bank support for governments seeking to improve public sector results: results needed for citizens' today through improved health, education, agriculture and transport services; and the less obvious but equally critical results such as fiscal stability which maximize the prospects that those results will still be delivered tomorrow.
In this period of fiscal crisis and tightening of public expenditure budgets, it is especially interesting to look at the extent to which public expenditures are wasted.
During his inauguration speech last December, newly-elect President Alpha Condé of Guinea Conakry declared “La Guinee est de retour! (Guinea is Back!).” A lot can be said in response to the question “back from where?” A short answer, though, would be “back from a tortuous and checkered five decades of post independence misrule”.
Child malnutrition may not be apparent to parents, especially if other children in the village look the same. Similarly, it can be hard for parents to recognize when their children are doing poorly in school. And – sad, but true – badly trained health staff and teachers too often miss these things, as well. Fixing this disconnect in perceptions may be one way improve health and education outcomes.
A few weeks ago, I delivered the convocation lecture at the Federal University for Technology in Owerri on the theme,“Nigeria’s youth: Turning challenge into opportunity”. While preparing for the lecture, I pulled up some numbers. Some of them really startled me.