Tag Archives: transparency

Privatization in Ukraine: Not So Fast

lugansk-factory

In Ukraine, thousands of companies are still owned and operated by the government — a legacy of Soviet central planning that bleeds money from the already strained state budget. With the country in economic crisis, there have been renewed calls for Ukraine to speed up its privatization process and sell these firms to private owners who can restructure them and run them more efficiently.

Ukraine’s former Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Aivara Abromavicius, recently made a well-reasoned argument for faster privatization on the Atlantic Council’s blog. Similarly, the IMF has also urged Ukraine to speed up the pace of privatization.

However, focusing on the pace rather than the quality of privatization will likely result in a botched privatization process — which will undermine the little bit of faith Ukrainians have left in the free market and state institutions, potentially leading to the growth of populist movements and destabilizing the current government.

Ukrainian state-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain a drag on the national budget. They serve as incubators for corruption and gray market deals and in some cases serve as piggy banks for Ukrainian politicians. While I agree with Abromavicius that “simplicity, clarity, and transparency,” must be maintained in order to successfully privatize Ukrainian state owned enterprises, his concept of creating a simplified privatization procedure (without advisers) through an online auction of over 1,000 smaller SOEs will likely lead to public anger over a process that would surely enrich insiders.

Without independent advisors overseeing the due diligence process and hiring independent auditors, bidders will not have transparent access to information about the companies listed. This would, in effect, be like buying from an unrated seller on eBay with only a vague description of what is for sale – something that would not inspire confidence in potential buyers.

A lack of independent advisors–and the transparency and investor assurances they would bring to an auction—can lead to lower realized prices for the Ukrainian government, attracting only those bidders with inside knowledge of the true status of the enterprises for sale.

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Storytelling: A Tool for Changemakers in Civil Societies Around the Globe

Storymakers Twitterchat 2016

Join us for the #Storymakers2016 Twitter chat on May 4

On May 4, CIPE is partnering with Democracy International and Devex for TechSoup’s 24-hour, around-the-world #Storymakers2016 Twitter chat. We’ll dig into how civil societies are using traditional and emerging storytelling tools to empower individuals and shift democracy, governance and human rights conversations around the globe.

Join us for this one-hour live Twitter chat on May 4, 2016 at 4:00pm EST, 10:00 pm Johannesburg time.

#Storymakers2016 Twitter Chat: Storytelling: a tool for change makers in civil societies around the globe

Curious about this topic? Tune in by following along at #Storymakers2016 to hear from global development leaders and civil society experts to discuss these questions:

  • What is working in #DemocracyRightsGovernance #communications + #storytelling? How are int’l orgs supporting #HumanRights advocacy + #CivilSociety?
  • What is not working when #GlobalDev orgs try and support #CivilSociety or #HumanRights activists in developing countries or repressive regimes?
  • What risks do activists and #CivilSociety organizations face when they utilize storytelling and other #comms tools?
  • Can storytelling and #communications counter the trajectory of countries with closing democratic space, turbulent politics, or even conflict?
  • How can int’l orgs, NGOs, CSOs, and activists overcome these challenges and improve #GlobalDev outcomes through better #storytelling?

Participants will include:

  • CIPE — The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) strengthens democracy around the globe through private enterprise and market-oriented reform.
  • Democracy International — Democracy International (DI) promotes democracy, human rights, good governance, peace, and international development around the world.
  • Devex — Devex is the media platform for the global development community. We connect & inform 700,000+ dev professionals worldwide.

Follow the organizations on social media:

Twitter:  @CIPEGlobal, @DemocracyIntl, @Devex, @TechSoup
Facebook: Center for International Private Enterprise, Democracy International, Devex

Benchmarking Public Procurement

benchmarking-procurement

Did you know that public procurement — goods and services bought by governments — accounts for around one-fifth of global GDP? Or that in most high-income economies public procurement takes up a third of total public spending, and in developing countries even more – about half?

These figures represent a significant share of national wealth. If channeled properly, public procurement provides indispensable benefits to a society, such as infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. Yet, if squandered, public procurement can set back the economy and contribute to massive corruption. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) estimates that corruption drains 20-25 percent of procurement budgets globally, which amounts to staggering $2 trillion per year.

The World Bank’s recent report, Benchmarking Public Procurement 2016, goes beyond the aggregate numbers to compare data on regulatory environments that affect the ability of companies to do business with the government in an open and transparent way.

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Talking Trash in Lebanon

Photo: Lebanese Examiner

Photo: Lebanese Examiner (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)

More than a week ago, the city of Beirut ceased trash collection when the landfill stopped accepting deliveries. It turns out the city’s biggest landfill is, well… full. Since then, the streets of this beautiful capital on the Mediterranean Sea have been filled with piles of garbage, rotting in the summer heat– 20,000 tons and counting. This creates obvious health hazards, and undercuts the city’s peak tourist season. Many residents are wearing masks to deal with the stench.

The Lebanese people are rightfully outraged. They see the garbage crisis as a manifestation of larger institutional failures. The country has been without a president for more than a year, and the parliament has extended its own mandate until 2017 without holding elections. The political deadlock breeds institutional paralysis, which in turn exacerbates corruption in a destructive cycle. Essential services like electricity, water, and, sure enough, waste removal are disrupted. CIPE’s longtime partner and Lebanon’s leading anti-corruption watchdog, the Lebanese Transparency Association (LTA), is not sitting idly by.

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Riinvest Institute Celebrates 20 year Anniversary

Riinvest 20th Anniversary 2

CIPE’s long term partner Riinvest Institute for Development Research is celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion, Riinvest held a conference on May 15 and 16 titled, “Activating the Sources of Economic Growth in Kosovo”. The conference brought together an impressive audience— the President and the Prime Minister of Kosovo*, the Deputy Minister of Finance, the World Bank Country Manager, other high level public officials, academics, business people, NGO leaders, the donor community, and members of the media.

*Kosovo’s newly-elected Prime Minister, Isa Mustafa, is the former President of Riinvest.

Riinvest leaders presented awards to a number of partners, individuals, and organizations who have supported the organization since its inception. CIPE had the honor of being presented the first two awards, one for Executive Director John Sullivan and one for the organization as a whole. CIPE Senior Consultant Carmen Stanila kindly received both awards on behalf of John and the organization.

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

cyber-crime copy2

“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

freedom-of-press2015

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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