Tag Archives: economic reform

Supporting Colombia’s Peace Process: Monitoring Economic Regulation and Transparency in the Use of Post-Conflict Resources

Colombia’s peace process aims to bring about reforms that will benefit agricultural families in post-conflict zones.

Introduction by Tim Ridout:

Colombia’s 2016 Peace Accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) made headlines throughout 2016 as it was in the final stretch of negotiations and eventual adoption on November 30, 2016. Although it has since attracted less attention in international news, the ratification of the agreement simply marked the completion of one step in the process. Since then, Colombia’s government, politicians, business community, and civil society leaders have been hard at work implementing the next phase in the accords, which seeks to bring rapid reforms and concrete gains to the Colombian people so they see the benefits of peace, particularly in the zones most affected by the conflict or previously controlled by the FARC. The key is to fill the vacuum quickly to prevent turmoil. Improved economic opportunity has been central to this effort, as have reforms to issues that fueled the conflict, such as coca production, land rights, and corruption.

Blog by Víctor Saavedra:

CIPE has joined forces with Fedesarrollo, Colombia’s primary think tank, in order to complete two objectives. The first is to monitor the extraordinary powers that the president has been given to issue rules that will implement the peace accord signed in December 2016; the second is to do an analysis of the public procurement system in the country and recommend how to more transparently administer the post-conflict resources (which in 2018 will reach nearly one billion U.S. dollars).

Regarding monitoring, Fedesarrollo has published two analyses thus far: one about regulation of a major land reform law (Decree 902 of 2017) and the other about substituting coca cultivation (Decree 896 of 2017). The land reform decree, which implemented one of the primary points of the Peace Accord, affected the processes for assigning, restoring, sanctioning, and regulating the rights of use and property regarding land. The business associations, primarily from the agricultural sector, had serious questions about the rule, which led to debates in the country.

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Ghana’s Growing Pains: Young People’s Economic Priorities Differ from Government’s Plans

Ghana’s disconnect between the government’s focus on agriculture and young people’s desire for better-quality jobs poses an obstacle to democracy and economic development.

Ghana’s millennial generation wants a change to the status quo, and with 57 percent of the country’s population under the age of 25, it is time for leaders to take note. The new government hopes that strengthening the agriculture sector will help to create jobs and combat youth unemployment. However, the government may have to convince young Ghanaians that focusing on agriculture is the right solution, according to a national survey sponsored by the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). The country’s economic landscape is changing, and with increasing connectivity and the rise of Accra as a regional hub, young people will not be content with their parents’ agricultural jobs. Instead, they want stable work that benefits from the promises of a transitioning economy.

In Ghana, the disconnect between opportunities presented by the government and the type of jobs that young people want poses a major obstacle to democracy and economic development. Education holds the promise of access to better jobs, and the government will be under pressure to deliver these jobs as more of the country’s youth reach working age. What constitutes a quality job for young Ghanaians? For now, the answer does not seem to lie in agricultural jobs. In order to respond to the needs of Ghanaian millennials and support economic growth and transition, it is an increasingly important question to ask.

Cocoa is a top export of West African countries, including Ghana.

Since taking office in early 2017, Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo has launched five policy initiatives to support agriculture, education access, and job creation, and foster a business-friendly environment. Following Akufo-Addo’s election victory in December of 2016, CIPE and the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) in Ghana conducted a national survey of Ghanaians’ top policy priorities. VOTO Mobile administered the survey via cell phone in March 2017 to 1,641 people across Ghana’s 10 regions. The survey results, as interpreted by CIPE, indicate national support for reducing barriers to education, and a shift away from agriculture among younger Ghanaians.

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Subsidy Systems in MENA Nations Need Reform

Buying bread with subsidy cards at a bakery in Cairo. via REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The subsidy systems in some Middle East and North African (MENA) nations need an overhaul. In countries such as Lebanon and Egypt, poorly structured subsidies exacerbate extant problems caused by high fiscal deficits, growing populations, and unmet citizen expectations. At least, that was the key message I took away from the CIPE webinar I attended on September 26. Because subsidies affect the economic capacity of millions of low-income families, CIPE hosted a webinar focusing on electricity subsidies in Lebanon and bread subsidies in Egypt to generate dialogue on the topic. My blog aims to highlight the main points from the webinar, which was facilitated by Patrick Mardini of the Lebanese Institute for Market Studies (LIMS) and Reem Abdelhaliem of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science at Cairo University.

Governments implement subsidies as a means to pacify discontented populations. The hope is that if the sticker price of essential commodities—such as bread, rice, oil, and electricity—is kept artificially low, citizens will have less of an incentive to protest poor economic conditions. While this may ease discontent in the short term, the subsidy systems in place often do more harm than good. By keeping prices low, the government bears consistent losses and passes those on to its citizens by elevating taxes and providing lower quality services. Furthermore, widespread corruption within the subsidy system exacerbates economic disparity and prevents the subsidies from benefiting its intended beneficiaries: the poor. Mardini and Abdelhaliem both discussed this during the webinar, using Lebanon and Egypt as prime examples.

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Uniting to Achieve a Common Goal: Advocating for Economic Reform in Algeria

CARE’s Project Coordinator Amel Belaid (right) and CIPE Advocacy Expert Haroune Sidatt (center) deliver an advocacy training to members of the Association for Business Development and Promotion in Algiers.

Algeria is a country in dire need of economic reform. As global oil prices have dropped and the dinar has depreciated, Algeria’s export revenues have been cut in half, and the state deficit has risen rapidly. Unemployment continues to go unchecked, and job creation is not high enough to keep up with a population in which 70 percent of people are under age 30.

For nearly three years, the Circle for Reflection and Action on Business (“CARE” in French) has mobilized members of Algeria’s business community to work with each other — and with the Algerian government — to bring about much-needed economic reform. With support from CIPE and funding from the Middle East Partnership Initiative, CARE recently achieved a major milestone that puts it on the path to success.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #75: Mark Oxley and Henry LaGue On Economic Progress in Zimbabwe

2011 CIPE Workshop in Zimbabwe

Henry LaGue sits down in the field with Mark Oxley, a CIPE consultant in Zimbabwe.

Oxley explains how he became involved with the country’s National Chamber of Commerce and CIPE, and he discusses the economic challenges facing Zimbabwe. Specifically, the country has a large number of highly educated individuals who are either unemployed or working in the informal sector. Despite economic difficulties, there are opportunities for investing in the country’s infrastructure and tourism.

LaGue provides an update on the accomplishments of the Women Alliance of Business Associations of Zimbabwe (WABAZ). CIPE supports WABAZ in building partnerships and networks among women entrepreneurs. CIPE also works with WABAZ to raise awareness on funding opportunities available to women entrepreneurs.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

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How Good Governance Got a Bad Name – and Why Governance Still Matters

Local leaders in the city of Talisay in the Philippines used CIPE partner the Institute of Solidarity in Asia’s performance governance system (PGS) to harness the city’s tourism-, agriculture-, and location-based strengths to reshape development and ensure sustainability through community involvement.

At CIPE, we’re accustomed to examining problems of democratic and economic development through a governance lens. We wonder how entrepreneurs can possibly succeed when the policy and regulatory environment is stacked against them. We wonder how good policy and regulation can be made without input and feedback from affected constituencies. We wonder what the point of policy is if government cannot be counted on to implement it. To address these problems of the enabling environment and government performance, we look for systemic change.

Not everyone thinks this way and many are frustrated by the demands and promises of good governance recommendations. They want to see immediate, tangible results from development. They see places where Western-style reforms have not delivered and other places that have done well economically despite a lack of rule of law or freedom. They see obstacles to fixing governance and wonder if it’s worth the effort.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #73: Majdi Hassen on Economic Reform Initiatives in Tunisia

Podcast guest Majdi Hassen and guest host Anna Kompanek

On this week’s Democracy the Delivers podcast, Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises (IACE) Executive Director Majdi Hassen talks with CIPE’s Anna Kompanek about the economic reform initiatives his organization is undertaking in Tunisia. IACE is an independent, non-profit think tank based in Tunis. Since Tunisia’s revolution, Hassen has overseen IACE’s growth into a “think-and-do” tank that plays a vital role in convening diverse political and civic actors to discuss urgent economic problems.

Hassen has developed a series of IACE programs designed to bring leadership skills and civic awareness to young entrepreneurs, policymakers, and stakeholders in Tunisia. He has been instrumental in organizing IACE’s Enterprise Days, Tunisia’s biggest economic forum, which gathers over 1,000 national and international policymakers, business leaders, and experts to discuss critical private sector issues.

Kompanek and Hassen discuss a public-private dialogue effort – the National Business Agenda – that has brought together voices in the business community to provide the government with constructive recommendations for economic reform. They also discuss a hotline that has been set up in Tunisia to help local businesses deal with red tape and bureaucratic hurdles.

Learn more about IACE’s work: http://www.iace.tn/

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.