In every country, sound laws are a key foundation of democratic governance and economic development. Crafting such laws, however, is only part of the path to success. The other half is making sure that the laws are properly implemented – which is often more challenging.
When laws and regulations are not properly adopted, such discrepancy creates an implementation gap – the difference between laws on the books and how they function in practice. This gap can have negative consequences for democratic governance and the economic prospects of countries and communities. Failing to fully implement laws undermines the credibility of government officials, fuels corruption, and presents serious challenges for business, which in turn hampers economic growth.
To help better understand why implementation gaps happen and how they can be addressed, CIPE and Global Integrity published Improving Public Governance: Closing the Implementation Gap Between Law and Practice. This guidebook offers starting points for identifying implementation gaps in various laws and regulations, asking why these laws and regulations are not fully adopted or practiced.
Based on the suggestions from the guidebook, the Center for the Implementation of Public Policies Promoting Equity and Growth (CIPPEC) researched whether Argentina’s access to information law is implemented by public entities, particularly by state-owned enterprise. The latest Economic Reform Feature Service article summarizes CIPPEC’s key findings from the research and policy reform suggestions needed to overcome the implementation gap.
Maiko Nakagaki is a Program Officer for Global Programs at CIPE.
Argentina’s state oil company, Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales, was privatized in 1993 but partially re-nationalized in 2012.
Access to information is an integral part of an open democracy. The UNDP defines access to information as encompassing the core principles of democratic governance: participation, transparency, and accountability. And the promotion and protection of both access to information itself and flows of information that exists between constituents, government, civil society organizations and the private sector are of equal importance. Yet, in many countries around the world, transparency or access to information laws are not properly enforced.
Argentina is a good example of this. The Access to Information Decree 1172/03, obliges “the bodies, entities, enterprise, companies, dependencies and all other entity that work under the jurisdiction of the National Executive Branch” to provide public information. The Decree defines private organizations as those either receiving subsidies or contributions from the national government. This definition is particularly important because the percentage of the national budget devoted to public enterprises in Argentina has been increasing — in 2006 it was 2 percent and it rose up to 8 percent by 2012. But are these state-owned enterprises abiding by Decree 1172/03?
Participants at the Frankfurt workshop.
Effective legal and regulatory reforms are key to improving governance and creating an entrepreneurship ecosystem conducive to economic growth and shared prosperity. Yet in many countries passing and implementing new laws and regulations remains a top-down process that receives little input from stakeholders who are directly affected.
All too often such reforms, even if they appear promising, remain on paper only since they lack broader ownership and support. In order to make the reform process more transparent, accountable, and fruitful, governments need to involve various segments of the society in the reform process. That involvement is particularly crucial when it comes to private sector organizations given that they represent the broader business community – the backbone of economic growth.
This crucial multi-stakeholder engagement process of public-private dialogue (PPD) was the topic of the recent 7th PPD Global Workshop in Frankfurt, Germany, co-organized by the World Bank Institute (WBI), the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).
The workshop gathered 145 participants from 41 countries, including the donor community, government representatives, and the private sector. It focused on key issues in designing, conducting, and evaluating PPDs, with experiences and approaches on what works shared among the participants. CIPE and several of its current and past partner organizations from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Senegal took part in this exciting event.
Divisional Coalition meeting at Rajshahi including women entrepreneurs, officers the from the Department of Women’s Affairs, representatives from local NGOs, and bank officials. (Photo: BWCCI)
What happens when carefully crafted laws are not properly or fully enforced?
Back in 2009, CIPE partner the Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BWCCI) advocated for a number of local and national level policy reforms by endorsing the first ever Women’s National Business Agenda (WNBA).
The WNBA suggested policy changes concerning social and financial barriers faced by women entrepreneurs. This effort led the Central Bank to start issuing collateral-free loans for women entrepreneurs. The policy was initially a success and helped provide nearly $23 million in loans to 3,000 women.
However, due to the lack of continued monitoring, over time many banks began changing their lending fees or stopped complying with the law all together. This phenomenon is what CIPE calls an implementation gap – when laws on books are not practiced in real life. Since April 2013, with CIPE support, BWCCI has been trying to close this gap for women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.
Following on the heels of the United States’ own Independence celebrations, the world’s newest country has just celebrated its 2nd birthday. On July 9, 2013, the people of South Sudan, with much fanfare, ushered in the second anniversary of their independence from Sudan.
The excitement level resembles that shown in 2011 during the referendum that led to South Sudan’s independence. For example, Sebit William of Miraya Radio reported on his program that a 65-year old man from Renk in Upper Nile State sold everything he had to come to Juba (the country’s capital) to celebrate the anniversary with his children.
However, at this time last year, the South Sudanese were more apprehensive, than celebratory – likely due to contentious disputes with our neighbor to the north over oil, which led to a complete shutdown of oil flows, halting the country’s main source of income. Leaders and citizens alike were not sure of the economic survival of the new state. Now in 2013, with the recent resumption of oil flows, many are hopeful about the possibilities for economic growth for the country. Additionally, other signs of progress are contributing to an unprecedented feeling of hope. While most of the lofty initial expectations of the South Sudanese have tempered with the reality of the long road ahead, there are still steps forward.
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.
Anna Nadgrodkiewicz and Marko Tomicic present the Implementation Gap handbook.
This past week, CIPE’s Cairo field office worked with partners Federation of Economic Development Associations (FEDA) and United Group to facilitate a conference on “Combating Corruption between the State and the Society.” The event was intended to summarize the lessons learned and experience gained by CIPE and its partners since 2008 under CIPE Egypt’s U.S. Agency for International Development- funded Combating Corruption and Promoting Transparency program, and to lay the groundwork for the newly-funded, two-year next phase of the initiative.
Of particular interest to the approximately 120 Egyptians present were two panelists who telecasted in from our Washington, DC office to share their perceptions of the “implementation gap” in Egyptian governance.
Marko Tomicic, a manager at the innovative transparency, governance, and corruption research organization Global Integrity, encouraged the audience to shy away from the conventional reliance on ranking indexes to understand the relative successes and failures of a country, and in particular, their own country.