A picture worth a million words

1 Comment

Filed under Development

Indian bureaucracy rated worst in Asia

 Singapore: Indian bureaucracy is the worst in Asia with a 9.21 rating out of 10, according to a report by a prestigious consulting firm based in Singapore.

 India fared worst than Vietnam (rated at 8.54), Indonesia (8.37), Philippines (7.57) and China (7.11), said the report released on Wednesday by Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy Ltd.

Singapore remained the best with a rating of 2.25, followed by Hong Kong (3.53), Thailand (5.25) Taiwan (5.57), Japan (5.77), South Korea (5.87) and Malaysia (5.89).

The report said India’s inefficient bureaucracy was largely responsible for most of the biggest complaints that business executive have about the country.

The complaints included inadequate infrastructure and corruption, where officials were willing to accept under-the-table payments and companies were tempted to pay to overcome bureaucratic inertia and gain government favours, the report claimed.

The report also highlighted onerous and fickle tax, environmental and other regulations that could make business in India “so frustrating and expensive”.

It said dealing with court system in India was an unattractive option for companies, and would be best to avoid it.

The bureaucrats were rarely held accountable for wrong decisions and it would be extremely difficult to challenge them when there were disagreements, it said.

“This gives them (bureaucrats) terrific powers and could be one of the main reasons why average Indians as well as existing and would-be foreign investors perceive India’s bureaucrats as negatively as they do,” said the report.

But there were plus points when India was compared to countries within the economic development group.

In the 2011-12 Global Competitiveness Report of the World Economic Forum, India ranked behind China but ahead of Russia and Brazil for the burden of government regulations as well as for the burden of customs procedures.

India was also second to Brazil but well ahead of China and Russia for the quality of regulation and supervision of the securities exchange, said the report.

India was also better than Brazil, Russia and China as the fastest place to set up a new business and to deal with construction permits, and was the second fastest place to deal with export and import procedures, the report said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Putting Growth In Its Place

It has to be but a means to development, not an end in itself
Is India doing marvellously well, or is it failing terribly? Depending on whom you speak to, you could pick up either of those answers with some frequency. One story, very popular among a minority but a large enough group—of Indians who are doing very well (and among the media that cater largely to them)—runs something like this. “After decades of mediocrity and stagnation under ‘Nehruvian socialism’, the Indian economy achieved a spectacular take-off during the last two decades. This take-off, which led to unprecedented improvements in income per head, was driven largely by market initiatives. It involves a significant increase in inequality, but this is a common phenomenon in periods of rapid growth. With enough time, the benefits of fast economic growth will surely reach even the poorest people, and we are firmly on the way to that.” Despite the conceptual confusion involved in bestowing the term ‘socialism’ to a collectivity of grossly statist policies of ‘Licence raj’ and neglect of the state’s responsibilities for school education and healthcare, the story just told has much plausibility, within its confined domain. Click here to read complete article.

1 Comment

Filed under Development

Making Aid More Effective: Base it on People Power!

At the end of November, leaders of rich and poor countries from around the world will gather in Busan, South Korea, to discuss how they can make aid more effective.

As set out in our earlier blog posts, this is an important meeting, as it tries to set a course for Governments on how to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

The meeting in Busan follows up on early summits on this issue, in particular the 2005 Paris Declaration and the 2008 Accra Agenda for Action, which were organised as aid donors realised that the current donor landscape is not conducive to delivering on the MDGs. Click here to read remaining article.

1 Comment

Filed under Development

Poverty rate: Three years on, govt decides to redraw the line

By Shahbaz Rana

ISLAMABAD: As pressure mounts on the government to spill out the number of people living below the poverty line, it has finally agreed to bring a three-year drought to an end.

After dragging its feet for over three and a half years, the government surrendered to the demand of firming up latest poverty figures, an exercise that may establish how much Pakistan Peoples Party led-government did for the welfare of masses.

“The Planning Commission will analyse data collected by the Statistics Division and may firm up poverty numbers in a couple of months,” said Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Dr Nadeemul Haque while talking to The Express Tribune. He said the government will hire competent people to carry out the analysis, as the Planning Commission does not have required expertise.

Click here to read full article

1 Comment

Filed under Development

CGD Pakistan Report criticises U.S. over lack of aid transparency

A report released yesterday by the Center for Global Development (CGD) has brought to light the United States’ lack of aid transparency in its activities in Pakistan. The report notes that despite widespread agreement from State Department and USAIDleaders on the benefits of transparency, very little progress has been made: “Transparency has not been a priority, and the lack of clear information generates scepticism and mistrust in Pakistan.” (Page 1)

It continues, “No one is sure what the United States is trying to accomplish in the development space. Because of a debilitating lack of transparency in the aid program, no one is even sure what the United States is doing.” (Page 4)Click here to read complete article


Filed under Development

Ex-Blair mandarin earning £4,400 A DAY in austerity Britain to advise on foreign aid


A former aide to Tony Blair was paid an ‘obscene’ £5,505 a day to advise the Government on doling out its vast foreign aid budget.

However the Department for International Development (DFID) has negotiated a discount with Sir Michael Barber, and he is now working for a bargain £4,404 a day.

Details of the deal with Sir Michael, head of the Downing Street ‘delivery unit’ under Mr Blair, have been leaked to the Daily Mail. A whistleblower at the DFID said it was appalling evidence of how the department was ‘losing its focus’ on helping the world’s poor.Click here to read remaining article

Leave a comment

Filed under Aid, consultants, Development


Assessing the social, political and economic impact of armed movements in affected regions and on the country as a whole has never been an easy task. It is an exercise that needs constant revision taking into account the progression in the conflict situation, and yet, there can be no finality to the assessment. Probably the enormity of the challenge has prevented such an exercise from being undertaken in Indian conflict theatres—in the Northeast as well as in the Left Wing Extremism affected states. Click here to read complete report.

Leave a comment

Filed under Development


What are the most effective ways to increase primary school enrollment and student learning? We argue that innovations in governance of social services may yield the highest return since social service delivery in developing countries is often plagued by inefficiencies and corruption. We illustrate this by using data from an unusual policy experiment. A newspaper campaign in Uganda aimed at reducing capture of public funds by providing schools (parents) with information to monitor local officials’ handling of a large education grant program. The campaign was highly successful and the reduction in capture had a positive effect on enrollment and student learning. Click here to read complete article here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Planning climate compatible development: lessons from experience

Effective planning can both help make development resilient to the impacts of climate change and help policymakers identify opportunities to harness development benefits from lowering emissions. In developing countries, such planning requires the support of international finance, technology transfer
and capacity building. Identifying national priorities for climate compatibledevelopment that combines adaptation and low emissions development objectives, while meeting the requirements of international support frameworks, involves balancing upward and downward accountability.
This briefing examines lessons learnt from different country-scale action planning under such dual accountability frameworks. Click here to read completet article here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

What’s really happening to inequality?

It’s evident within-country inequality is back on the radar of some of the major international organisations including UNICEF and UNDP who are leading the wider UN body but, perhaps surprisingly, also the World Economic Forum and the International Monetary Fund.

The basic case is as follows: inequality matters because high inequality can inhibit growth, discourage institutional development towards accountable government and undermine civic and social life leading to conflict especially in multi-ethnic settings.

A number of new studies have pushed thinking forward and a new paper by Chilean Economist Gabriel Jose Gabriel Palma raises a number of questions about the middle classes in particular and their role in redistributive politics.

Five years ago the World Bank’s World Development Report on inequalities was important in that it opened a wider debate on the interaction between types of inequality and how inequality reproduces itself across generations as a result of ‘inequality traps’ or persistent differences in power, wealth and status between socio-economic groups that are sustained over time by economic, political and socio-cultural mechanisms and institutions.

Since then, the impact of inequalities on economic growth has received considerable attention. For example, Klasen and Lamanna in one paper detailed how gender inequalities have held back economic growth and Grimm in another paper that health inequalities impede growth. Recently, the IMF too published a paper by Berg and Osty outlining how high inequality impedes the sustainability of growth spells. High inequality has also been linked to fragility and conflict (see Cramer or ; Stewart et al., papers).

However, exactly what’s happening to within-country inequality isn’t immediately clear.

The new Solt database of the main measure of inequality (known as the Gini after an Italian Sociologist who developed it) was analysed by Ortiz and Cummins at UNICEF who concluded the evidence showed:

Rising inequality in Asia, 1990-2008 but falling inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa over the same time period.

And inequality in Latin America rose slightly 1990-2008 but fell between 2000-2008 and inequality was static in the Middle East and North Africa.

Ortiz and Cummins list a long set of countries where inequality significantly fell between 2000-2008. For example, inequality fell by more than 3 points in Thailand, Malaysia; Brazil, Peru, Argentina, Chile; Lesotho, Malawi, Ethiopia, Burundi, Mali, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Uganda, Nigeria, Gabon.

However, a new paper by Chilean Economist Gabriel Jose Gabriel Palma does a detailed study of within country inequality between 1985 vs 2005 suggesting the gini hides as much as it reveals.

Instead we need to look at each 10% of the population and what they get.

He finds that there is now a surprising similar picture in most countries, noting:

1. The great majority of regions and countries have a relatively similar distribution of income inequality because countries with low inequality at the outset (1985) have got more unequal and countries with high-inequality have got slightly more equal.

2. The middle classes generally get half of the economic pie wherever you look and the middle classes are incredibly successful about protecting their half.

3. Politics is increasingly a fight for the remaining half between the richest 10% and poorest 40% meaning the other half of the distribution is increasingly ‘up for grabs’ between the very rich and the very poor and who can win over the middle classes.

This might begin to explain some of the recent declines in inequality in Latin America as suggested in a paper by Birdsall et al., who argue that ‘social democratic’ regimes (eg Brazil, Chile and Uruguay) are more likely to reduce inequality than ‘left populist’ (eg Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and Venezuela) and both are more likely to reduce inequality that non-left regimes (eg Colombia, Costa Rica Mexico, Peru) and that this is largely due to more social spending and more progressive spending especially so in the social democratic regimes (eg spending on cash transfers targeted to the poorest and greater increases in spending on health and education and increases in spending on basic services – in particular in education, greater increases in spending on primary and secondary schooling rather than on public universities.

These social democrats have strong support in the middle classes and this throws up the question posed by Birdsall et al:

Might the growing middle classes in countries like Chile and Brazil help lock in leftist social democratic political regimes (whether because or despite its concentration in the top quintile of households)? There is no evidence that a large middle class is necessary let alone sufficient to these regimes. But a growing global middle class does seem likely to reinforce effective government that manages moderate redistribution while retaining investor confidence in the likelihood of continuing growth and price stability. Put another way: When is the middle class large enough to become politically salient in supporting or at least tolerating the kind of social and other distributive policies that are good for them but turn out to be good for the poor—for example universal public education?

Food for thought – the middle classes as the new revolutionaries?

Source: http://www.globaldashboard.org/2011/07/01/what%E2%80%99s-really-happening-to-inequality/

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Foreign advisers raking in millions

By Steve Lewis:

Rich contract ... rural sociologist Dr. Adiel Mbabu. Source: The Daily Telegraph

THEY’RE the Australian government officials you’ve never heard of – but most of them earn more than Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

The combined salaries of a select group of AusAID-funded consultants – who offer advice to developing nations on everything from law and order to farming – totals millions of dollars a year.

Kenyan man Adiel Mbabu, who advises Papua New Guinea on farming techniques, is the recipient of one of the richest individual foreign aid contracts, worth $1.089 million.Dr Mbabu’s three-year deal – which will earn him just over $350,000 annually tax-free – was awarded after an “open international tender process”, according to an AusAID spokeswoman. The Kenyan adviser provides “expert independent support” to the PNG National Agriculture and Livestock Department.

He is just one consultant whose work in some of the world’s poorest countries has brought personal riches.

Despite Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd vowing to crack down on highly paid advisers, Geoffrey Elvy will earn $936,091 over two years to give economics advice to PNG – nearly double the salary of Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Leslie Holland will earn $924,319 to help Vanuatu build a better transport system while Philip Warren gets $897,680 to advise the PNG government on transport.

Carey Brooker will earn $808,368 to advise on education while the recipient of the biggest individual AusAID contract – former clerk of the court John Dinsdale – has just negotiated a one-year $430,264 extension to his $1.077 million “law and justice” contract in PNG. On the eve of a government review into foreign aid – which gives the green light to increasing annual spending to about $9 billion by 2015 – the amount paid to the big three private contractors has doubled to $1.8 billion.

And the fat profits earned by Coffey International, Cardno and GRM are likely to expand further. The review, chaired by former Olympics boss Sandy Hollway, gives Australia’s aid program the tick of approval and says AusAID is capable of handling a much bigger budget.

It also suggests more money be channelled into aid projects through multilateral bodies such as United Nations agencies and charities like Oxfam.

It clears the way for a big increase in aid spending in Africa, despite Australia traditionally focusing on the Asia-Pacific region.

Australian universities are also cashing in with the University of Queensland receiving $93.7 million in contracts, Australian National University $81.7 million and Melbourne University $38.5 million.

Twelve months after The Daily Telegraph first exposed the lucrative nature of AusAID contracts, the amounts earned by individuals and private firms continue to grow, triggering protests from countries such as PNG, Tonga and the Solomon Islands. But AusAID says a new adviser remuneration guideline is working.

“Since February some 52 advisers have been engaged at rates 10 to 40 per cent below that initially sought by the advisers or which would have applied previously,” the spokeswoman said.

Source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/national/foreign-advisers-raking-in-millions/story-e6freuzr-1226085187145


Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Aid To Pakistan: Too Much Or Too Little?


How did people come to such wildly different conclusions about American aid to Pakistan?

Some Americans seem to have concluded it’s a waste of $20 billion. Yet in Lahore, Pakistani newspaper editor Najam Sethi suggested to me that Pakistan has hardly received any help at all. “It’s peanuts,” Sethi said.

The answer lies in the incredible complexity of Pakistan, as well as the complexity of sending aid halfway around the world. Nothing about the story is as simple as it seems. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Why Bangladesh doesn’t want climate adaptation loans

By pushing climate loans, the UK and the World Bank are making people in poor countries pay twice for climate change – even though we played almost no part in causing the problem

Rickshaw drivers cycle through water after heavy rain in Dhaka. Photograph: Pavel Rahman/AP

This week in Cape Town, the World Bank will decide whether to approve new climate adaptation loans for five countries. In Bangladesh and around the world, campaigners are resisting these loans and urging their governments not to accept new debt for climate change. More than 50 organisations from countries due to receive the loans recently signed a statement opposing the concept of climate loans, which was initially invented by the UK.Click here to read complete article

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Hazardous Child Labor

By Mahe Darakhshan:


Scenario of child labour


Children are the most beautiful and purest creation of God. Every morning we feel a special kind of joy and happiness, watching them going schools in different colorful uniforms. Unfortunately there are millions of innocent children, who cannot  go to schools due to the financial problems, and being forced to kill their dreams and pushed forward to earn living for their families. They belong to that segment of the society who don’t have any hopes and never seen their childhood. They have forgotten all the pleasures of child hood. These children are the victims of the phenomenon, child labor. The working class observed World Day against child labor on June 12, 2011. Seminars, conferences and rallies were organized by the NGOs, trade unions and organizations like Employers’ Federation of Pakistan. Employers’ Federation of Pakistan in collaboration with International Labor  the theme of this years was on Hazardous Child Labor. A number of media, industry, trade unions, and NGOs representatives attended the conference. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Development

Highlights of the Economic Survey of Pakistan – 2011

Courtesy Shoaib Habib Memon:

The Real GDP is estimated to grow at 2.4 percent on the back of strong performance of services sector as against actual growth of 3.8 percent last year and target of 4.5 percent.

The growth in the agriculture is estimated at 1.2 percent on the back of 3.7 percent growth in the livestock sector. .. Output in the manufacturing sector has witnessed expansion of 3 percent in 2010-11 as compared to expansion of 5.5 percent last year on the back of strong performance from small and medium manufacturing sector.

Large-scale manufacturing grew 1.7 percent in July-March (2010-11) as against 4.9 percent as comparing to last year. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

The Principal-Agent problem in governance

By Jhelum Chowdhury

It is time that Indians wake up to the fact that they are quite far from enjoying real personal, economic and political freedom.  Realization is the first step to rectification.

Typically a lot of care is taken in appointing and supervising our agents or vendors in different facets of our life.  Imagine the kind of effort we take when recruiting, appraising and promoting or dismissing at our workplaces and maybe more so at home.  But, paradoxically, in appointing the people who run our governments, and even less so in monitoring them, we have little teeth.  Principles of people management, so pervasive in all other aspects, go out of the window when it comes to appointing and running our governments. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Development

Involving the Community: A Guide to Participatory Development Communication

Some academics write treatises about communication in development but do not undertake ‘projects’. Most communications practitioners, on the other hand, know well the highs and lows of field implementation but do not publish. Guy Bessette, the author of this book, is an exception to both rules: a PhD who is also a practitioner and who collates his experiences into a handbook to serve as a guide to others.

For those who equate communication with media, the idea the book expounds – that communication is a facilitator of the development process – may seem odd. This is not so for those who see development as people in communities actively and freely participating in tasks whose object is to make their collective lives better. Then communication means the interaction that must happen between and among the participants (and also their environment) if some common ground is to be reached through which their objective can be achieved. Hence communication virtually becomes the development process itself and the stakeholders – be they the community members or their various supporters who share an interest in the outcome – are development communicators as well. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Recognising a rare civilian moment in Pakistan

A Pakistani woman looks at a soldier standing guard near the house of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on Sunday. The bin Laden episode has brought back questions about the Pakistan Army.

A Pakistani woman looks at a soldier standing guard near the house of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad on Sunday. The bin Laden episode has brought back questions about the Pakistan Army.

It is important that India does nothing that will help the Pakistan military reassert itself.

The killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan by the U.S Navy’s special operations force has created an obvious rift between the people of Pakistan and their Army. Tough questions are being asked about the security establishment’s role in the entire affair: did it know that the world’s most wanted man was living at walking distance from the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul in Abbottabad? Was it involved in turning him in? If not, why not? Did it know about the U.S. operation in advance? If so, why did it allow the unilateral operation on its territory? If it did not know, what is the point of a military? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Development

Are 1 in 3 Africans middle class?

Yes says a new report from the African Development Bank which says one in three (34%) or 313m of Africa’s nearly 1bn people are now middle class (living on $2-$20/day) – a jump from 27% and about 200m in size in 2000 – after several decades without much change.

A similar report by the Asian Development Bank last year found something similar in the data, noting more than half (56%) of people in developing Asia live at the $2-$20/day level (all of this is PPP US$ by the way).

This is all good news. However, is someone living on just over $2/day ‘middle class’? $2 is the average poverty line for developing countries meaning you’re poor or middle class but what about in between? Or is there a different group altogether – those who voted for Lula in Brazil or took to the streets in the Middle East?

The Africa report notes: 62% live under $2/day and 34% of people live on $2-$20/day (of which two-thirds of these live in the $2-$4/day range or are in ‘the floating class’ in the report) and 5% live on more than $20/day.

Interestingly, Tunisia and Egypt were high up in the countries in Africa by % citizens in the middle class of $4-$20/day and also top for fewest poor people under $1.25/day tho both have surprisingly high non-monetary poverty). Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Development