About a decade ago, I worked on budget reforms in Eastern Europe. I remember advising and consulting on different countries’ efforts to create medium term budgets, performance based budgets, fiscal rules, and other new institutions. The same reforms were being tried in all countries, often with the support of external agencies. These reforms were sold to governments using similar lines: “New Zealand does it like this”; “Sweden budgets in this way”; “This is the way Australia and other OECD countries do it.”
A few months ago, passengers travelling on a major airline linking the USA with West Africa reported a steady deterioration in service. A series of flights were cancelled and others delayed, leaving passengers on their way to Liberia stranded in Ghana for a day or more. The airline appeared to be putting its oldest planes on the West African routes and they were breaking down a lot. Passengers started to complain, and the Liberian Civil Aviation Administration announced that the government would no longer buy tickets on the airline.
The eyes of the world were on Liberia earlier in the month, as the UN High Level Panel (HLP) on the post-2015 agenda met in Monrovia to discuss what should replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) once they expire in 2015. The Budget Strengthening Initiative’s Natasha Sharma sat down with Christopher Wallace, Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Affairs and the Government lead on the HLP, to discuss the meetings and Liberia’s development plans.
- The g7+ will convene an international conference on fragility and the Post-2015 Agenda. Development for All: Stop conflict, build states and eradicate poverty will take place in Dili from the 26 and to the 28 of February. And a transcript of Emilia Pires’ speech at the High Level Forum in Monrovia on lessons from fragile and conflict affected states is now online.
- CGD’s David Roodman blogs on the Club de Paris’ recent decision to grant debt relief to Myanmar
- Dominik Balthasar writes on the failure of the western policies towards fragile states; Seth Kaplan critiques the OECD’s latest report on resource flows in fragile states; and a new working paper from Brookings maps out how donors should support governance in difficult post-conflict environments.
- Francis Fukayama’s latest CGD working paper asks What is governance? and examines how to measure the quality of states.
The International Budget Partnership’s (IBP) 2012 Open Budget Survey shows that the global average Open Budget Index (OBI) has improved from 41 to 46 between 2008 and 2012. If, for the same period, we look at the OBI for 18 countries that the OECD classifies as ‘fragile’, we see an improvement from 25 to 36. A closer look suggests however that these improvements are erratic and prone to stagnation and backslide. Support to local champions of transparency and accountability is required to consolidate these gains and help them past the minimum level of transparency, where many countries stagnate. Without such support to emergent accountability actors, budget transparency reforms in fragile countries are unlikely to progress past a basic level.