The invitation for new SAFE Trust Fund applications is now open until 9 February 2018
We also want to thank you for reading, contributing and engaging on what it will take to help governments build capable, efficient, open, inclusive and accountable institutions.
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-part series. You can read part-two here. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of the World Bank Group, its Board of Directors or the governments they represent.
The World Development Report 2017 on Governance and the Law has cast some much welcome attention on the role of law in development. Compared to other sectors, international aid to the justice sector has been relatively low: only 1.8% of total aid flows, compared with 7.4% and 7.5% for the health and education sectors respectively between 2005 and 2013. More than that, the WDR 2017 is commendable for successfully articulating a positive and coherent if cautious view of law’s role.
The idea that economic growth needs good governance and good governance needs economic growth takes us to a perennial chicken-and-egg debate: Which comes first in development—good governance OR economic growth? For decades, positions have been sharply divided between those who advocate “fix governance first” and others who say “stimulate growth first.”
How can citizens’ actions help build a society that is more open, accountable and inclusive? In about a week, social accountability stakeholders from across the world will convene at World Bank headquarters to discuss just that, at the Global Partners Forum of the World Bank’s Global Partnership for Social Accountability (GPSA).
Delivering pension or disability services may sound mundane, but if you have seen the recent award-winning movie, I, Daniel Blake, it is anything but. As the film poignantly demonstrates, treating citizens with respect and approaching them as humans rather than case numbers is not just good practice -- it can mean life or death. In the film, Mr. Blake, an elderly tradesman with a heart condition, attempts to apply for a disability pension. In the process, he navigates a Kafkaesque maze of dozens of office visits, automated phone calls, and dysfunctional online forms. All of this is confusing and often dehumanizing.
Today, the world marks the International Day for the Universal Access to Information. Fittingly, we in Sri Lanka, celebrate 7 months since the Right to Information (RTI) Bill was enacted.
The product of a slow and steady reform process, RTI is a milestone in Sri Lanka’s history.
Yet how many citizens know about its benefits?
As open access to information takes international center stage today, I’m hoping Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Bill, one of the world’s most comprehensive, will get the attention it deserves.
There is indeed much to celebrate.
Civil society organizations and private citizens are putting Sri Lanka’s RTI to the test. Diverse requests have been filed, from questions relating to how investments are made for the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) to how soil and sand mining permits have been allotted in districts like Gampaha.
Interestingly, people living in rural areas are more aware -- and vocal -- of their rights to know than people in urban areas.
The government is making steady progress. In the last six months, more than 3,000 information officers have been recruited. An independent RTI Commission enforces compliance and acts on those who do not follow the law. If, for example, an information officer refuses to release information pertaining to a citizen’s life, they must provide a valid reason or face legal penalties.
In the next few years, the Sri Lankan bureaucracy faces the huge task of revamping its record management, including its land registration system. This reform is an opportunity to live up to RTI’s ambitions of open governance and help citizens access land title information and records that give them a legal title to their property.
The use of technology to promote citizen engagement has been described as “the next big thing”, and is often associated with adjectives such as “disruptive”, “transformational,” and “revolutionary.” Yet, in contrast with the deluge of blog posts and tweets praising technology’s role to promote smarter and more participatory governments, one finds limited evidence on the effects of technology on citizen engagement practices.
Civic Tech – Assessing Technology for the Public Good is a new book that – we hope – contributes to addressing this knowledge gap. The book is comprised of one study and three field evaluations of civic tech initiatives in developing countries. The study reviews evidence on the use of twenty-three digital platforms designed to amplify citizen voices to improve service delivery. Focusing on 23 empirical studies of initiatives in the Global South, the authors highlight both citizen uptake and the degree to which public service providers respond to expressions of citizen voice.
As the world is increasingly interconnected, international taxation – traditionally more of a niche issue for tax lawyers – is receiving more and more attention in wider discussions on economic development: Double tax treaties, or agreements that two countries sign with one another to prevent multinational corporations or individuals from being taxed twice, have become more common, with more than 3,000 in effect today. And while they may contribute to investment, some have also become an instrument for aggressive tax planning.
ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE GLOBAL RIA AWARD 2017
Any visitor to Armenia can testify that the country has delicious food. But diners need to be assured that the khorovats, dolma, or basturma on their plates will not make them sick. How can this be assured?
Some 65 percent of the 320,000 inhabitants of the Brazilian city of Rio Branco use bicycles as their primary mode of transportation, and the popularity of biking is increasing across the country. But Brazil’s 40,000 annual traffic related fatalities makes protective gear a necessity. What is appropriate protection?