SLPP New Direction Must Do More to Fulfil the World Bank Governance Indicators!
By Ranger, Guest Editor (30/11/18)
The World Bank Governance Indicators define government effectiveness as the quality of public services and the degree of political independence etc.
Public sector management, accountability, legal framework for development, transparency and information have been initially identified as the core elements of governance.
This is how Governance Indicators of the World Bank Institute defines government effectiveness: "Measuring the quality of public services, the quality of the civil service, the degree of independence from political pressures, the quality of policy formulation and implementation and the credibility of the government’s commitment to such policies."
Without good public sector management i.e. improvement in efficiency of public institutions, no government can succeed to deliver effectively the goods and services that amount to poverty reduction and its ultimate elimination.
Special attention within the scope of public expenditure management has to continue to be put on public investments, budget planning concerning operation and maintenance, and on strengthening the budgeting process. Civil Service reform in context of the good governance agenda is also a priority in achieving the New Direction policy proclamations.
Reform of public enterprises should include privatization of those public enterprises that are not commercially viable. This should go together with improving the market and competitive conditions, and reform of cooperation mechanisms between public enterprises and the government in order to strengthen the management of public enterprises and to give less opportunity for politically motivated influence.
Accountability is at the heart of good state governance. Accountability is holding public officials responsible for their actions in office. Another description of the contents of accountability has to do with holding government responsible for their actions. At the political level, it means making rulers accountable to the ruled, typically through the contestability of political power.
According to these definitions, accountability works in two directions. On one hand, there is an internal effect within public institutions regarding financial accountability and the creation of internal control mechanisms. This is very much related to the topic of Public Service Management as explained above.
On the other hand, there is also an external effect of accountability which relates to involvement of the population. The internal effect of accountability is referred to as horizontal accountability, the external effect as vertical accountability.
Voice refers to the possibility of the public to influence the quality and quantity of public services by e.g. improving access to information and involving CSOs. This means the success of the government must be measured by how much it is able to satisfy the needs of the population, not only its economic performance.
Voice mechanisms will give way for a more participatory approach to development by focusing on access to information and including CSOs as partners in the development process.
A very important topic related to accountability is the fight against corruption. The legal framework for development represents the rule of law approach in governance defined as follows: "The rule of law represents the legal dimension of good governance by a country in an economic environment where business risks can be rationally assessed and the cost of transactions are lowered. Both aims will only be achieved in an appropriate legal system."
Summing up, judicial reform within good governance encompasses improvement of the judicial system - including dispute settlement mechanisms - legislative reforms, and the improvement of legal education and training. With regard to corruption, the main weapon against it is to reduce the opportunities for it to a minimum.
The challenge to improve the interaction between government and the public in terms of rendering more transparency in the decision-making processes has to be addressed seriously in implementing the New Direction.