Tag Archives: access to information

Sparking Debate on Economic Policy in Nepal

Samriddhi wins an award at the Asia Liberty Forum in Kuala Lumpur.

Samriddhi wins an award at the Asia Liberty Forum in Kuala Lumpur.

By Sarita Sapkota, Samriddhi

In the annual Asia Liberty Forum in Malaysia this year, Atlas Network presented the Asia Liberty Award to Samriddhi for its ‘Econ-ity’ initiative. As part of Atlas’ Regional Liberty Awards, The Asia Liberty Award recognizes think tanks within the Atlas Network that have made important contributions to improving the landscape for enterprise and entrepreneurship in their regions. Through the award, Econ-ity was specially appreciated for the success it has brought about in advocating for and having an impact on energy sector reforms and investment policy reforms in the area of foreign investment in Nepal.

These reform efforts include pressuring the government to remove the minimum investment requirement in its recent foreign investment policies to allow small entrepreneurs to receive smaller investments and technology transfer from foreign companies as well as the establishment of a hydropower trade agreement with India that creates a more optimistic environment for investors in the sector. CIPE has been partnering with Samriddhi on several research and advocacy projects in both areas over the years.

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The Role of the Presidential Debate in Macri’s Argentina Election Victory

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This post has been updated on December 17, 2015.

What a difference a month can make!  During Argentina’s first presidential candidate debate in October, Daniel Scioli, the Peronist government party candidate, appeared to be a shoo-in with voters. A month later at the November debate held at the University of Buenos Aires Law School the tables were completely turned. Mauricio Macri, representing the opposition voice of market friendly change had now become the favorite to win the election. What happened?

The role of the presidential debates—the first in Argentine history (see my previous post on the first debate which talks about this CIPE supported initiative)—is difficult to quantify. What we can see is that Scioli paid a heavy political price for not participating in October’s debate. The other candidates made constant references during the debate to the empty podium that referenced his absence. The press also excoriated Scioli’s last minute decision to not participate.

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Sustainable Development through the Open Government Partnership? Yes, with the Private Sector

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When the Open Government Partnership chose the theme of Openness for All: Enabling Sustainable Development for the 2015 Global Summit in Mexico City, it signaled more than a healthy interest in the Sustainable Development Goals recently proclaimed in New York. OGP was expressing the value of openness as a means to progress on issues that matter to citizens, in addition to achieving openness for its own sake.

As United Nations Development Programme Administrator Helen Clark noted at the summit opening, “transparent, accountable, and responsive institutions and governance” are key to achieving progress across the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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With More People Than Ever Online, Internet Freedom Continues to Decline

Source: Freedom House

Source: Freedom House

Out of the three billion internet users today around the world, most live in countries where the internet is not free. According to Freedom House’s latest report, Freedom on the Net 2015, which examined internet freedom in 65 countries, global internet freedom has declined for the fifth year in a row. The freest country is Iceland, and the least free is China. The report was compiled by analyzing laws and practices relevant to the internet, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing various sources.

Overall, governments around the world censored information of public interest, while expanding surveillance and limiting privacy tools. Some key figures include:

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CIPE Launches First Annual Photo Competition

Photo: © 2011 Swapping aid for trade in northern Uganda, Pete Lewis/UK Department for International Development

Photo: © 2011 Swapping aid for trade in northern Uganda, Pete Lewis/UK Department for International Development

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank

Show us your best story-telling photo

Do you like to tell stories through photography? Then show us your best work! The first annual Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Photo Competition is now open for submissions.

Open to participants of all ages, including student, amateur, and professional photographers, the inaugural photo competition will focus on the theme of Entrepreneurship.

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Pakistan’s Cyber Crime Bill Has Free Speech Advocates and Business Community Worried

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“The proposed Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2015, in my opinion, is even worse than the one we advocated against during the Musharraf era.  The fact that the Ministry of IT&T felt the need to operate in complete secrecy over the past year clearly indicates the mindset with which this draft has been put together. P@SHA, ISPAK, legal cybercrime experts and civil society were not called in for a consultation.”
– Jehan Ara, President Pakistan Software Houses Association for IT and ITES (P@SHA)

Pakistan has a long history of suppressing the freedom of speech. Democratically elected governments have left the popular video site YouTube blocked since 2012. Twitter was blocked in the same year and in 2010 a court order forced government to block every social media site in the country on the pretext of preventing the distribution of blasphemous content.

Even with this background, the current government’s “Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill 2015” has civil society, business, the information technology sector, and the media deeply worried about the future of online freedom of speech and Pakistan’s information technology industries.

The proposed bill aims to rectify the lack of legislation pertaining to cyber-crime. While the government argues that the bill had undergone a public consultative process, stakeholders are of the view that since government has not shared the final version of the bill, it may contain clauses that will infringe upon the right to online speech. Representatives of Pakistan’s information technology sector have strongly criticized previous drafts of the bill.

“Just a quick look at the clauses and sections in this Act shows that very little thought went into its drafting,” said Jehan Ara, president of P@SHA. “The definitions are weak, the language is loose and vague and leaves much to interpretation, and it criminalizes all sorts of activities that do not even fall within the gambit of this Bill.”

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Press Freedom Still on the Decline

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By Dahye Kim

On May 3, the United Nations General Assembly honors the fundamental principles of press freedom with World Press Freedom Day. On this day Freedom House also released Freedom of the Press 2015, the latest edition of its annual report published since 1980 to evaluate press freedom around the world.

Unfortunately, the dominant global trend in 2014 was negative. Global average score of press freedom declined to the lowest point in more than 10 years, with the largest one-year drop in a decade. There were significant declines in press freedom in 18 countries (Greece, Bahrain, Mali, Hong Kong, Azerbaijan, etc.), while just eight had significant gains (Tunisia, Myanmar, Libya, etc.)

Of 199 countries and territories, 32 percent were rated “Free”, 36 percent were rated “Partly Free”, and 32 percent were rated “Not Free.” This marks a shift toward the Partly Free category compared with the previous year.

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