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.
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 very negative consequences for democratic governance and the economic prospects of countries and communities. When laws are not properly implemented, that undermines the credibility of government officials, fuels corruption, and presents serious challenges for business, which in turn hampers economic growth.
This is especially true at the local level. Implementation gaps are particularly visible and often most painfully felt at the local level, where poor governance and weak administration of laws have the greatest impact on the daily lives of ordinary citizens.
To help better understand why implementation gaps happen and how they can be addressed CIPE and Global Integrity launched a new guidebook, Improving Public Governance: Closing the Implementation Gap Between Law and Practice. The guidebook is based on extensive experience from both organizations’ work with local partners around the world on advancing accountable, transparent, and honest public governance and business environments.
Yesterday, we hosted Global Integrity’s Nathaniel Heller who presented the most recent results of the 2009 Global Integrity Report and gave an interesting overview of corruption measurements and their practical relevance.
Global Integrity ranks 70 countries based on the quality of their governance institutions, and there are some interesting developments in this year’s index. On the positive side, their “grand corruption watch list” lost 3 countries due to improvements over the past few years – China, Georgia, and Serbia. On the negative side, however, that same list got 6 new members – Algeria, Jordan, Liberia, Mongolia, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
One of the more interesting things that Global Integrity measures is implementation gaps, which are sufficiently large in some developing countries, illustrating that oftentimes what countries need is not necessarily new laws and regulations, but better enforcement of existing rules. For two biggest offenders in this category – Uganda and Bosnia – a large implementation gap is also linked to high levels of donor assistance. Which begs a question: “Are aid-dependent countries more likely to exhibit large implementation gaps?”