Tag Archives: governance

Europe’s Corruption Challenges Examined

In this 2011 file photo, a billboard is shown on the Rue Belliard in the European district of Brussels THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Maria Sanchez-Marin

In this 2011 file photo, a billboard is shown on the Rue Belliard in the European district of Brussels THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION/Maria Sanchez-Marin

This post originally appeared on the Thomson Reuters TrustLaw blog.

The European Union (EU) is taking a hard look at corruption in its midst, having recently published its first-ever corruption monitoring report. The results are striking: the estimated cost of corruption in the EU’s 28 member states equals €120 billion, a figure nearing the EU’s annual budget.

A sense of corruption problems in Europe has been pervasive in the news. In Spain, Princess Cristina and her husband have been embroiled in a case centered on the alleged embezzlement of €6 million in public funds. In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Petr Necas resigned after a scandal involving illegal surveillance andgraft. He has been recently charged with bribery for offering state posts to former opposition members in return for them leaving office. In Italy, former premier Silvio Berlusconi is back in court (again) on charges of giving a €3million bribe to an opposition politician to switch sides. And the Romanian Parliament voted to exempt top politicians from corruption liability.

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Investing in Governance for Lasting Growth

Amid the lingering effects of the global financial crisis, there has been an ongoing debate regarding the strategy behind international aid. The question is whether to continue with traditional projects that seek to alleviate poverty through the provision of basic human needs such as health care, education, and food security, or to refocus efforts on building the capacity of local governance thereby making developing countries capable of addressing these issues on their own.  While this debate has been around for at least two decades, current budgetary constraints in donor countries have brought the conversation back into focus.

Speaking in terms of policy, there has long been consensus on the fact that better governance leads to more vigorous economic growth.  Regardless of rhetoric, however, donor agencies have continued to channel the majority of their resources toward areas like infrastructure, agricultural development, and education.  This must change if the development community wants to meet its goals.

On a panel at the Center for Strategic International Studies, Executive Director of the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) John Sullivan joined three other discussants – including a World Bank VP and U.S. Ambassador – to talk about the nexus between governance and growth. The panelists unanimously agreed that governance, specifically democratic governance, is a crucial element of moving developing countries off of foreign aid.  Good governance is an enabler that allows developing countries to better utilize donor funding and develop sustainable, local solutions to challenges.

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Property Rights and the Global Agenda for Development

world we want

The United Nations recently published a report of the High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda. The 27-member panel is composed of leaders from civil society, the private sector, and government – including Betty Maina, the Chief Executive of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM), one of the country’s leading business associations and a long-time CIPE partner.

The panel’s finding were based on extensive consultations with more than 5,000 civil society organizations in about 120 countries and CEOs of 250 companies in 30 countries with annual revenues exceeding $8 trillion, as well as academics from developed and developing countries, international and local NGOs, and parliamentarians.

The report concludes that the post-2015 agenda for the international community to agree upon before the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) needs to be driven by five big, transformative shifts:

  1. Leave No One Behind
  2. Put Sustainable Development at the Core
  3. Transform Economies for Jobs and Inclusive Growth
  4. Build Peace and Effective, Open and Accountable Public Institutions
  5. Forge a new Global Partnership

In a recent blog post, Karol Boudreaux, Director for Investments at the Omidyar Network, references this report and rightfully notes that property rights are key to achieving MDGs – in particular the first two: ending poverty and empowering girls and women – and therefore crucial to the success of these larger post-2015 goals as well. She says, “new attention is focused on encouraging bottom-up, participatory efforts that recognize and formalize the legitimate rights that individuals (including women and girls), communities and businesses hold to a variety of resources.” That matters tremendously because the poor – both informal urban entrepreneurs and small farmers – are the largest group of business people in the world.

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What Causes Implementation Gaps?

Cover

The implementation gap – the difference between laws on books and how they function in reality – is a problem experienced all around the world. Member countries of the East African Community (EAC) agreed on the removal of non-tariff barriers in 2007, but implementing the policy has been extremely slow. As India’s currency declined significantly against the dollar this week, investors in India voiced their eagerness and frustration of the Indian government’s slow pace of implementing rules aimed to attracting foreign investment and spurring growth.

Why do policies sometimes take so much time to be implemented, or in some cases, are never enforced? In the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article, I explore these questions as I summarize and highlight CIPE and Global Integrity’s co-authored guidebook, Improving Public Governance: Closing the Implementation Gap Between Law and Practice.

To find out more about how to address implementation gaps, read the article here.

The Serbian Experience in Transition

800px-Karadjordje_Belgrade

One of the most famous opening lines in all of literature comes from the great Russian novel Anna Karenina: “Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” With that, Tolstoy encapsulates a simple truth: dysfunction takes myriad forms. That’s not to say that one cannot learn from another’s experience. Indeed, some of the most important lessons can come from those who have already tried and failed. Experience is singular, but patterns can illuminate.

It is in that same spirit that Boris Begović writes the latest Economic Reform Feature Service article, which offers Serbia’s lessons in democratic transition to countries currently in flux. Dr. Begović, a longtime CIPE partner who was a chief economic adviser to the federal government of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 15 months during 2000-2002, examines the approaches that worked for Serbia—and those that didn’t. Read the full text of The Serbian Experience in Transition.

Why Words Matter

Created with WordItOut.

Created with WordItOut.

Researchers have recently identified 23 words they term “ultraconserved,” meaning they haven’t much changed since the end of the Ice Age 15,000 years ago. These words—mother, man, fire, worm, and spit, among others­—sound and mean the same in most Eurasiatic language families. The most commonly shared word is “thou” – the singular form of “you”. Imagine that. Among the nearly 700 languages in these families, stretching from Great Britain to Western China, the Arctic to southern India, all of them share a very close version of this word.

Words matter because they allow us to communicate clearly. A decade ago, no agreed-upon phrase existed in Arabic for corporate governance, making debate and reform difficult. An issue can’t be addressed if it can’t be clearly defined. To that end, a CIPE-led effort resulted in the first standardized term for “corporate governance” in the Arabic language: hawkamat ash-sharikat. Developing a common term opened the door for broad-based dialogue on corporate governance in the Arab world.

Sometimes it seems that CIPE has its own language. Look at the word cloud above, created from CIPE’s 2012 Annual Report. Democracy, business, governance, public sector, private sector. These words are probably familiar, but it might not be immediately clear how they work together.

If you look at it more closely, however, you’ll see they are parts of a fully functioning, democratic, free market society. All of the pieces move together—an empowered, informed electorate can hold its government accountable. A strong private sector forms the engine of job creation and economic growth within a society. A true democracy is dependent on its citizens, its private sector, and its government to act in good faith and with good intentions.

Words matter for what they represent. The words in the image above represent the hard work of CIPE’s partners over the last year. Their stories and successes are inspiring, and we hope you’ll take the time to read about them here.

New Rules for State-Owned Enterprises in Pakistan

Pakistan Steel Mills (Photo: The Express Tribune)

Pakistan Steel Mills (Photo: The Express Tribune)

Public sector companies in Pakistan are now losing nearly $4 billion per year — a significant drain on government resources and the overall economy.

Exactly a year ago, CIPE Pakistan Country Director Moin Fudda quoted the Ministry of Finance in a blog post as saying “Inefficient public sector enterprises are draining fiscal resources and choking the economy.” CIPE had been working closely with two key regulators, the Ministry of Finance and Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, to help Pakistan develop a corporate governance framework for state owned enterprises that could help stop the profuse bleeding of government resources.

A presentation made by former State Bank Governor Salim Raza at The Institute of Chartered Accountants Pakistan suggests some key landmarks for Pakistan’s sinking economy. The presentation suggests that by 2017, Pakistan needs to grow at a sustainable rate of 7 percent a year, the tax to GDP ratio needs to be increased by 15 percent annually, the peak energy gap needs to be reduced significantly, and public sector debt must be shrunk by reducing losses by state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

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