ISSUE 65
August 2004
 
 
   
    NIGERIA: Obasanjo Vows to Curb Corruption, Waste in Public Service
KENYA: Anti-Graft War: What the World Bank Wants
LIBERIA: Bad Governance Causes Conflict Says Thompson
NIGERIA: IAP Plans Nigerian Corruption Survey, Index
GHANA: President Kufuor Inaugurates Public Procurement Board
Africa Losses $148 Bn Annually to Corruption - Report
SIERRA LEONE: Anti-Corruption Act to Be Reformed
SIERRA LEONE: Anti-Corruption Outlines Recruitment Process
   
    PHILIPPINES: Gov't Presents 'Roadmap' for Anti-corruption Campaign
CHINA: UNDP-funded Research on Govt. Corruption Fruitful: Official
CAMBODIA: Development-Cambodia: Corruption Choking Growth - World Bank
CHINA: New Rule to Keep Corruption at Bay
CAMBODIA: Cambodia Seeks to Convince Investors It Will Fight Corruption
   
    CECH REPUBLIC: Corruption Prague
   
    BRUNEI: Seminar On Good Governance Ends
   
    World Bank Reviews Policy On Oil
 
   
    NIGERIA: Civil Servants Update Knowledge On Anti-Graft
SOUTH AFRICA: State to Crack Down on Lazy Civil Servants
NIGERIA: Public Servants Want More Funding for ICPC
NAMIBIA: Poor Pay Behind Civil Servants Quitting Jobs
GHANA: Civil Servants Cautioned against Involving in Partisan Politics
   
    MALAYSIA: Appraisal System for Civil Servants to Stay
TAIWAN: Justice Ministry Forms Unit to Bolster Government Ethics
TAIWAN: Government May Consider Raising Retirement Age for Public Servants
SOUTH KOREA: Gov't to Legalize Public Workers' Trade Unions
SINGAPORE: Civil Servants Looking Forward to Long-awaited 5-day Work Week
   
    POLAND: Premier Seeks Sweeping Powers to Dismiss Top Civil Servants
   
    BRUNEI: Civil Servants Told To Shun Incompetence And Corruption
 
   
    UGANDA: U.S. Funds E-Government Feasibility Study
   
    INDIA: Several E-governance Projects to be Implemented in a Phased Manner
SOUTH KOREA: S Korea, Thailand Agree on E-government Deal
   
    ITALY: E-government, STANCA: 132 Projects Presented by Local Bodies
 
   
    SOUTH AFRICA: State Managing Better, Says Manuel
KENYA: Govt Introduces System to Monitor Use of Public Funds
   
    IRELAND: Keep Brake on Public Spending, Warns Finance
 
   
    SOUTH AFRICA: The Two Basic Types of Privatisation Explained
BOTSWANA: Privatisation Must Benefit Producer, Consumer
SOUTH AFRICA: South Africa's Minister of Finance Issues Code of Good Practice for BEE
MOROCCO: IFC: Morocco Secures World's First Public-Private Partnership Irrigation Project
SOUTH AFRICA: Treasury Launches Manual for Public/Private Partnership
SOUTH AFRICA: Cosatu and Government Make Headway on Privatisation
NIGERIA: Privatisation: FG Urged to Drop Core Investor Policy
ETHIOPIA: Economists Advocate Transparency, Caution On Privatisation
   
    JORDAN: Jordan Privatization Program Beneficial
   
    The Organization of American States, Ebrary and E-libro Join Forces to Facilitate Online Education and Information Sharing Throughout the Americas
 
Obasanjo Vows to Curb Corruption, Waste in Public Service

President Olusegun Obasanjo has reiterated his government's determination to curb corruption and waste in the public service and vowed to bring to book corrupt public servants and others outside the system. Speaking on Monday in Abuja at the 34th yearly Conference of Civil Service Commissions in the Federation, the President expressed disappointment over the poor performance of the service all over the nation. According to him: "Allow me to, however candidly express the great disappointment of government in the very poor performance of the service all over the nation without focusing on the well-known public knowledge of widespread corruption and the inability to perform the functions for which huge sums of money had been invested, it is now clear to all that creativity, innovation and hard work, even patriotism have been compromised or negated in the public service. In several ways, the public service has undermined our quest for stability, growth and development", he added. President Obasanjo decried the waste, misplaced priorities, inefficiency and outdated technology in the public service, noting that: "Over the years, the public service commissions at the federal and state levels lost the values on which they were established. Merit was sacrificed for expediency and opportunism. Retraining of hired staff hardly took place. "It allowed so-called 'ghost workers' infiltrate the service and ended up with a payroll that was totally at variance with output or productivity parastatals were mismanaged, looted and so badly run that they became an embarrassment to the norms of efficiency, productivity management and probity", he lamented.

The President, however, noted that: "in the area of corruption and waste government has introduced several institutions and policies designed to clear up the system, check corruption, curtail waste and terminated the culture of contract inflation. These include the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU) or Due Process the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to handle relevant cases. "As you all know, corrupt public servants and others outside the system would be brought to book to the fullest extent of the law for any act of corruption. I, therefore, urge you to assist government in fighting the scourge of corruption in the service by ensuring that corrupt officers are exposed and disciplined, while honest, dedicated and hardworking and efficient officers are duly recognised and adequately rewarded," he stated. On the over-bloated nature of the public sector work- force, the President said: "on the issue of public sector work force, there is this popularly held view that the public service in Nigeria is over-bloated and should be right-sized. While I do not have a contrary opinion to the concept of right-sizing the service, I recognise that it has to be done fairly, justly and with due regard to social justice and the comfort of disengaging staff. "However, in the particular case of the public service, it appears that the proliferation of parastatals and the creation of many agencies have resulted in the past in unnecessary duplication of functions and in some cases mandates. This adversely affected national economic growth and government is now putting in place policies to reverse the trend", he stated.

From Daily Times of Nigeria, Nigeria, by Simon Timothy, Abuja, 3 August 2004


Anti-Graft War: What the World Bank Wants

Relations between the Government and the donor community have lately deteriorated over the issue of corruption. The World Bank's resident representative, MAKHTAR DIOP, explains some of the emerging issues (excerpts).
Q: How much budgetary support is the World Bank planning to give the Government this year?
A: The Bank has earmarked $75 million for budgetary support which we would like to be able to make available within several months. It is linked to policy reform along three key pillars:
- Reform in Public Financial Management, including strengthening underlying budgetary allocation and financial accounting systems, efficient procurement systems and transparent government financial systems.
- Parastatal reform and progress on privatisation.
- Policy reform in the agricultural sector. I would like to emphasise that the idea is not to impose "conditions" that are onerous for Kenya. Rather, the idea is to provide assistance that will help the Government in its own stated objectives as outlined in the Economic Recovery Strategy; specifically of achieving greater transparency and efficiency in use of public resources, in the overarching interest of reducing poverty. We will also be working with the Government on a Financial Sector Adjustment Credit, to ensure greater transparency in the financial sector as part of the overall governance reform agenda. For years, the financial sector was the vehicle for illegal and corrupt transactions, not to mention mismanagement - the result is that the public sector banks are left holding loans, up to 30 per cent of which are non-performing, with the result being restricted credit availability to honest individuals. We will help the Government rectify this through privatisation of National Bank of Kenya and Kenya Commercial Bank, bringing world-class management and transparent systems to Kenya's banking system.

Q: The Bank has not been visible in the efforts by bilaterals to put pressure on the government to contain new corruption. Why?
A: No World Bank project funds are involved, therefore, our concern is more general.
The World Bank is part of the donor coordination group that is working with the government to end corruption. In addition, we are continuously in touch with the government about corruption. We are providing support for the Kenya Anti-Corruption Authority, and we have an advisory role in working with the government. We are following the Anglo Leasing issue very closely with other donors and the government. We are waiting for the results of the investigation, and more importantly to see that action is taken afterwards. Obviously, we are concerned to know if the Anglo Leasing issue is an isolated incident, or reflective of a more widespread pattern. The strong sentiments expressed by the Kenyan people and the attention these allegations are receiving by Kenya's media point both to a high level of vigilance and a low-level of tolerance for corruption. This is a positive development and is in line with the Bank's high requirements for financial integrity in the projects it finances. The Government has stated that there is an investigation underway and we will be looking for an expeditious conclusion of this process and decisive action on the outcome of the probe.

Q: But why aren't you joining the diplomatic community who jointly expressed their concern about graft and threatened to stop funding?
A: The Bank is as concerned about possible graft as anyone, and is in fact a global leader in the fight against graft with a full-time department of institutional integrity leading this initiative. Our view is that it would be tragic for Kenya's future if there was a return to past levels of corruption. Our Country Assistance Strategy for Kenya, which governs how much development finance we can provide for specific sectors, clearly spells out by how much the Bank will reduce its assistance if we see a return to these patterns. While the Bank is focused on its development agenda and mission to reduce poverty, we also take a tough stand against graft and embed financial controls in all the projects we finance to help ensure probity and that these resources are put to their intended uses in the fight against poverty.

Q: So do you want the tone of the discussion to change?
A: In addition to what has already been raised in discussion of the Anglo Leasing affair, are the structural weaknesses in the public expenditure systems that this matter has brought to the fore. We feel that there needs to be a much stronger focus on strengthening the underlying systems that make graft possible in the first place. How can you put in place sufficient controls on extra-budgetary expenditure, ensure that financial accounting is timely and accurate, and that budget allocation matches development priorities? A recent review of the budget system has revealed vulnerabilities in that the underlying structure, and we will be building on this as we shape our upcoming budget support. We are working closely with the European Union on helping Kenya reform its budget management system. Addressing these substantive issues will help ensure that there is a strong and sustainable underlying system that reduces the chances of similar incidents recurring in the future.

Q: Are you happy to go on lending under the current conditions where government is seen as being soft on corruption?
A: We will base our decisions on the facts. Our budgetary support will establish concrete benchmarks in terms of sound management of public resources. The World Bank's funding decisions are based on the merits of development proposals from government as well as an assessment of broad environmental issues. This is the basis of our funding and we will continue to provide development assistance along these lines. Having said that, I should add that anti-corruption measures are inherently part and parcel of everything that we do. When, as has happened in the past in Kenya, the Bank is convinced that corruption is endemic and pervasive, we can and do take action, which could include restricting our funding to emergency operations, such as we did in 1998 to help Kenya recover from the El Nino-related natural disaster.

Q: So what do you do if you detect signs of corruption in one of your projects?
A: Well before the present incident we were working, along with our internal integrity department, to ensure that all projects in our lending portfolio are equipped with measures to catch corruption and halt it in its tracks. As you know, our internal integrity department has been working closely with the authorities on the Kenya Urban Transport Improvement Project (KUTIP) issue. We are discussing this actively with KACA and the Efficiency Monitoring Unit, and we will be fielding a mission in the coming months to review our portfolio with the authorities to ensure it is as invulnerable to corruption as possible. Companies and individuals found to have broken the Bank's procurement or consultancy guidelines can be banned from participating in any further Bank-backed projects either temporarily or permanently. Actions could include forensic audits and even prosecution in court. When corruption is discovered in our projects, the Bank actively pursues legal channels against the culprits. The Bank also publicly lists the names of the individuals or companies found to have breached its consultancy or procurement guidelines and publishes the resulting penalty on its website. The Bank is the only international organisation that publicly lists the names of firms that have been sanctioned for having engaged in fraud or corruption. To date more than 90 companies have been debarred from the Bank's roster.

Q: What assistance are you providing to help Kenya fight corruption?
A: Ensuring that development assistance actually helps improve lives is a debt we owe the Kenyan people and the Bank's board. To this end we are supporting measures to build the capacity of the Government's ant-graft institutions as well as that of project implementation agencies. We are financing, for instance, the government's reform of the legal and judicial system, in collaboration with other donors, to ensure the honesty of this critical institutional structure. We are in discussions not only with the Government, but with Parliament, specifically on ways that we can support them in their oversight role in fighting corruption. In a coming lending operation, we are planning to have a specific component to support Parliament in this role, particularly the Public Accounts Committee and the Public Investment Committee.
We also support the Government's efforts to create the legal and policy framework that supports anti-corruption efforts, including the legislation now before Parliament for reform of procurement and financial accounting standards. Strong, independent institutions, less bureaucracy and greater grassroots' empowerment, is the way ahead.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by The Nation, Nairobi, 2 August 2004

Bad Governance Causes Conflict Says Thompson

A Liberian economist-cum-politician, Samuel Wonwi Thompson, says poverty, bad governance, corruption, and the failure of past leaderships are the root causes of the conflict in Liberia. "The root causes of our conflict are not differences in class, tribe, religion or political ideology. Instead, they are crippling poverty, bad governance, corruption and the failure of succeeding leaderships to end the socio-economic and political exclusion of the vast majority of our people," Mr. Thompson declared. His prognosis is that unless a serious attempt is made now to address these issues in a fundamental way at the end of a very expensive DDRR, repatriation and resettlement exercise, the seeds of future conflict would remain planted in Liberia. Mr. Thompson made the observation when he delivered an address at the Wilton Park Conference held in Sussex, United Kingdom, under the theme, "African solutions For African Problems: National and International Responsibility for Conflict Resolution." Speaking on the topic: "Reconciliation and Reconstruction in Africa: Beyond the Peace Agreements," Mr. Thompson suggested 12 national and international points for conflict resolution in Africa.

One the national level, Mr. Thompson, who is also Economic Advisor to Transitional Chairman Gyude Bryant, Africans must put into power transparent, accountable and visionary post-war leadership that can reconcile their internal political differences, and can be trusted to constructively engage the external actors to stabilize the environment. "Nationals must realize that elections by themselves are not a panacea for democracy or deep-seated problems. We must critically re-assess our history, traditions and institutions so that those which adversely affect the state be either dropped or re-engineered. For example, the imperial presidency or cult of the presidency is a corruption of the traditional chieftaincy culture which elevates the chief or leader above his subjects. It has led to dictatorship in many countries," he noted. The economist is suggesting that before elections, nationals must decide on remedies for wrongs committed, that leaders and citizens must demonstrate a stronger commitment to grass root economic empowerment, broad-based development, the protection of human rights and the rule of law. He said it is important that leaders and the people promote nationalism and patriotism above parochial or tribal leanings, that the international community continue to send out a clear message that tyrants and brutal dictators no longer be supported or tolerated, and that the world sensitizes African leaders about the danger to world peace of creating safe havens for insurgents against neighboring governments.

"There is need for a paradigm shift concerning the more positive role African countries can play as politically stable and expanding market economies, to foster world economic growth, peace and security," Mr. Thompson asserted. He wants a massive support for peaceful democratic change through popular choice on a level playing field, by providing resources for voter education, media access of all candidates and capacity building of political institutions. According to him, "funding for security sector reform should include the setting up of a standing multinational counter-insurgency force," adding that committing resources for grass root economic empowerment, infrastructural development, restoration of basic services, skills training and capacity building of state bureaucracies would go a long way in conflict resolution and reconciliation. Punitive actions, he recommended, should including prosecution for war crimes, should be taken against those lending support to insurgencies to destabilize countries.

Mr. Thompson further suggested that there should be collaboration between national and international actors to resolve conflict must be mutual and symbiotic, adding that it must entail respect for the values and culture of the national actors", evolving from the aspiration of the people and taking into consideration their needs and major concerns. The conference was attended by a mixture of over 75 senior diplomats, government ministries, policy advisors, members of parliament, economists, consultants, defense and security analysts. It followed research from the United States, Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, ECOWAS, European Union, African Union, the World Bank, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations. Also in attendance was the head of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization; the US Government's Special Advisor on Sudan, State Department; the UN Secretary General's Special Representative for West Africa; the Head of Secretariat to the Commission for Africa, Department for International Development in London, the Director of the Defense and Security Department, ECOWAS - Abuja; and the Strategic Policy Advisor, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The conference was hosted against the backdrop that the Britain is expected to head both the G-8 and the European Union in 2005; and Prime Minister Tony Blair and his government are committed to making 2005 the year of Africa in collaboration with those institutions and NEPAD.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, from The Analyst, Monrovia, 2 August 2004


IAP Plans Nigerian Corruption Survey, Index

Independent Advocacy Project (IAP), a Nigerian civil society organisation, has unveiled plans to carry out a nation-wide survey to independently monitor and assess corruption in the country. The survey, is expected to establish linkages between corruption and socio-economic rights among citizens. Briefing newsmen in Lagos yesterday, Mr. Babatunde Olugboji, IAP Chairman and governance specialist at Transparency International, Berlin, Germany, claimed the survey would result in a Nigeria Corruption Index (NCI), which would collate and analyse the responses of average Nigerians on their daily encounter with corruption. Focusing on the public sector, the survey is billed to start in four cities; Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, and Abuja, with the findings published in the first quarter of 2005. "NCI is an index that seeks to empirically highlight the magnitude of corruption in Nigeria and underscore its adverse effects on good governance, democracy, and development. While there is a general agreement that corruption is a major problem in the country, there is little agreement on its nature and scope due to a dearth of concrete, quantitative data on corruption", he said.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Bimbola Akosile, Lagos, 4 August 2004


President Kufuor Inaugurates Public Procurement Board

Accra - President John Agyekum Kufuor has called the on members the Public Procurement Board to ensure transparency to avoid any suspicion for the genuineness in government's determination to get value for money through procurement. Inaugurating the seven-member Board on Wednesday, President Kufuor said, "We believe that with the effective and efficient management of the public sector procurement transparency could be seen and achieved to pave the way for emulation by successive governments". With the coming into effect of the Act, the Public Procurement Act 2003, (Act 663), passed by Parliament last year, procurement institutions, such as the District Tender Board, the Ghana National Procurement Agency (GNPA) and the Ghana Supply Commission (GSC) cease to exist. In their place, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies, as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies would set up their own Tender Committees and Tender Review Boards under the guidelines provided in the Act. President Kufuor said the source of most corrupt acts were through procurement and with the Government being the major source of purchases. He said procurement had been characterised by malpractices such as inflating prices, payment of commission up-front, distortion in tenders, suppliers and officials arranging purchases and deciding what should go into their pockets.

"Government has taken a critical look into the problem and decided to establish the Board to ensure transparency in procurement," he said. President Kufuor said the Government was in arms to fight corruption in the society and its policy on "Zero Tolerance for Corruption" was on course. He noted that corruption had been with man for a very long time and said, however, that the Government had appealed to Ministers and officials to endeavour to resist the temptation to be corrupt. "The moral fibre of the Ministers are to resist the temptation to be corrupt and rise above corruption". "Your Board therefore, plays a very crucial role in the Government's efforts to bring down corruption to its lowest ebb", he said. Mr Kwesi Abbey Sam, Chairman of the Board, prayed to God for the courage, humility and the wisdom to carry on with the task ahead. He stressed the need for capacity building for the Act to work effectively and efficiently for a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory procurement procedure. Members of the Board are, Mrs Kathleen Quartey-Ayensu, of the Attorney-General's Department, Dr Boeh Ocansey, President of the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) and Ms Helen Allotey, Chief Economic Officer. The other members are, Mrs Eileen Odartey Laryea, Director of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Mr Tommy Amematekpor, Businessman and Mrs Asante Frempong, a retired Educationist.

From GhanaWeb, Ghana, 4 August 2004


Africa Losses $148 Bn Annually to Corruption - Report

Report has shown that Africa losses an estimated $148 billion annually to corrupt practices, a figure which represents 25 percent of the continent's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Mr. Babatunde Olugboji, Chairman, Independent Advocacy Project, made this revelation in Lagos while addressing the press on the survey scheduled to be embarked upon by the body to determine the level of corruption in the country even though Transparency International has rated Nigeria as the second most corruption nation in the world. According to him, the report by African Union estimated that corruption had cost Africa more than $148 billion yearly an amount which represents 25 percent of Africa's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and increases the cost of goods by 20 percent. Meanwhile, he noted African Development Bank (ADB) also estimated that lower income households spend an average of two to three percent of their incomes on bribes, thus rich households spend an average of 0.9 percent. On Nigeria, he said that there is a paucity of reliable data on Nigeria stressing that a study has shown that as much as $30 billion aid for Africa in 1996 ended up in foreign accounts. This, according to him, is twice the annual GDP of Ghana, Kenya and Uganda combined. Another report affirmed that corruption has cost many government as much as 50 percent of tax revenue. Besides, the indirect cost of corruption can dwarf its direct costs as scarce resources are squandered on uneconomical projects as a result of their potential to generate lucrative payoffs, while priority sectors like education and health suffer disproportionately Olugboji explained.

"Unfortunately, corruption is not only a hindrance to development, it is impoverishing ordinary Nigerians. The British Development Agency, Department for International Development (DFID) in its 2002 country strategy paper on Nigeria said poverty persists in Nigeria because of mismanagement of resources and corruption" the report said. Continuing, "improved governance lies at the heart of the strategy to reduce poverty. The GDP is highly distorted as oil receipts accounts for 40 percent of GDP, 70 percent of budget revenue and 95 percent of export inefficient". Olugboji enumerated the consequences of corruption which he said erodes stability and trust, damages the ethos of democratic governments while its macro economic and social costs are immense. In Nigeria, he said that corruption in public life has been baneful to the socio-economic and political advancement of the country, which claimed to have been both cause and consequences, noting that the structural decay bequeathed by decades of rent seeking politic of the post-colonial state. He went on to say that corruption constraints development of national economies and prevent good governance. He, however, pointed out that the Obasanjo administration has taken steps to tackle corruption which includes the publication of details of revenue allocation by the Ministry of Finance, government's endorsement of the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative in Nigeria (EITI) and the commedable job by the Due Process mechanism.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Princewill Ekwujuru of Vanguard, Lagos, 6 August 2004

Anti-Corruption Act to Be Reformed

Adviser to Anti Corruption Commissioner, Paul Russel (OBE) disclosed past Thursday that the commission is "moving towards looking at the Anti Corruption Commission Act (ACC) 2000 to see how it can be reformed." He was responding to a question posed by Concord Times that the ACC is a toothless bull dug because it only investigates and does not have the power to prosecute cases in court. Russel noted that the question of prosecution by the ACC after investigating their cases would feature in the reform move. "The current law is the ACC Act 2000 which gives statutory obligations to the Commission to investigate, prevent and educate about corruption. "There is nothing we can do about it for now," the ACC Adviser said. He however cited examples of Anti Corruption Commissions in Malawi and Zambia that have the powers to prosecute cases. Many people in the country have lost faith in the ACC judging from the fact that a lot of cases investigated by the commission hardly go to court because of 'political manipulation', of the Attorney General's office which has the sole power to prosecute. "Empowering the ACC with the powers to prosecute will not only be a welcome move, but a step in the right direction to cleanse its stigma of being a political tool to silence government opponents," remarked Francis George. Rather, it is intended as an investment in people who are prepared to exert effort to improve their country and to make a better future for them and their children." He however assured Sierra Leoneans that they are proud to be a partner in that effort.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa by Sahr Musa Yamba of Concord Times, Freetown, 9 August 2004



Anti-Corruption Outlines Recruitment Process

Freetown - The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in a press release issued Thursday stated that in a bid to attract competent and qualified staff, they operate a transparent recruitment policy. The release says the main consideration of this policy is to ensure that the process is free and fair and appointment decisions are based solely on merit and in accordance with the standard recruitment policy. "There should be no unfair discrimination on the basis of age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, community background, political opinion or religious beliefs," the statement stated. Rickdales Consultancy, the release noted recruited sixteen 16 ACC staff members in May 2004 and the process actually started with advertisements for the positions in October 2003. The sixteen staff members were however only given letters of appointment in May and June 2004 after going through an interview, a probity check and declaration of assets for the positions. The following positions were advertised Director of Finance and Administration, Human Resource Manager, Community Relations Officers, Public Relations Officer, Community Relations Officer Transport Officer, Investigators (7), Internal Auditor and Senior Prevention Officer.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, from the Concord Times, Freetown, 20 August 2004




 

 

 

 

Gov't Presents 'Roadmap' for Anti-corruption Campaign

The Government on Tuesday presented a "roadmap" for its anti-corruption campaign in its efforts to finally end the "scourge," which it said hindered economic development and aggravated poverty. The "roadmap" will follow the trail taken by Hong Kong when it established the powerful Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1974, according to a paper presented by Chief of Staff Rigoberto Tiglao during the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council in Malacanang. Effective law enforcement, strengthening of people's values, passing relevant legislations, judicial reforms, and establishing a system in government that will ensure transparency in all transactions will complement the "roadmap," said Tiglao in his paper, copies of which were distributed to media. Tiglao said the establishment of the ICAC was the "most important factor" that made Hong Kong the second least corrupt state in Asia from being the most corrupt in the region 30 years ago.

ICAC, Tiglao said he discovered three essential factors in its anti-corruption campaign. One, there is need for sufficient number of well-trained investigators. He said the ICAC has 800 investigators for a ratio of 1:2,000 civil servants while the Philippines has 145, or 1:10,000 civil servants. Two, there is need for a sufficient number of well-trained prosecutors. He said Hong Kong's Department of Justice had a prosecution service with a 2.7 billion-peso budget compared to the entire budget of the Office of the Ombudsman of 481 million pesos. Three, there is need for a centralized organization. He said ICAC was the sole agency investigating graft. Tiglao proposed two models similar to ICAC for the Philippines. The first would require amending the Ombudsman Law to "strengthen and expand its investigation or case build-up unit." "The second model would require Congress to create an entirely new institution patterned after ICAC to focus only on case build-up, prevention and education," Tiglao said. Under the second model, Tiglao said the Office of the Ombudsman would do the preliminary investigation and prosecution.

Tiglao's other proposals include amending the Ombudsman Law to allow the Office of the Ombudsman to hire private prosecutors to litigate before the Sandiganbayan anti-graft court; requiring the attachment of the income tax returns in the Statement of Assets and Liabilities of all public officials and state employees; enacting the Whistleblower's Protection Act; requiring the waiver of secrecy of bank deposits of officials charged with corruption after the Ombudsman finds probable cause. Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Ignacio Bunye said that at the LEDAC meeting, the President expressed her intention to work closely with the Bishop-Businessmen's Conference to draft anti-corruption programs that would involve all sectors to scrutinize government contracts and projects, especially the terms of bidding. She also asked her Cabinet to coordinate with business groups in setting up an anti-corruption fund, which businessmen promised to raise, Bunye said. A Transparency International Report had said that the Philippines was the fourth most corrupt country in Asia.
In her State of the Nation Address, Arroyo had asked Congress to pass a law giving the Office of the Ombudsman powers similar to that of the ICAC.

From Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippines, by Lira Dalangin-Fernandez, 3 August 2004



UNDP-funded Research on Govt. Corruption Fruitful: Official

BEIJING - Research on fighting corruption, financed by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has been successful during the past year, said Li Yubin, vice minister of supervision and head of the international program, Friday. A number of academic reports on the issue have been developed out by the participants, Li said in an exclusive interview. The program was launched last year and is scheduled to take three years, according to the official. The program will sum up China's experience in its anti-corruption campaign and study international experience in the field. It will develop proposals to build up a clean government, Li said. Enditem

From Xinhua, China 13 August 2004


Development-Cambodia: Corruption Choking Growth - World Bank

Corruption, coupled with non-transparent regulations, red tape and the lack of infrastructure, is choking economic growth in Cambodia according to a damning World Bank report released Thursday. The World Bank surveyed 800 businesses in Cambodia and four-fifths of the private sector sampled, according to the report, acknowledged the necessity of paying bribes. ''Seventy one percent of large firms report that that these payments are frequent. The private sector estimates that unofficial payments cost firms an average of 5.2 percent of total sales revenue,'' revealed the Bank's report, titled 'Cambodia Seizing the Global Opportunity: Investment Climate Assessment and Reform Strategy for Cambodia'. ''Firms' financial data suggests that unofficial payments are a large component of the cost of doing business,'' said the World Bank. In a recent speech, insisting on the need to accelerate reform, Prime Minister Hun Sen explained that if business continued as usual, his country would not be on track to halve poverty, but rather would expect poverty to increase to 28 percent by 2015.

The report was prepared for the Cambodian government by the World Bank Group. Cambodia gets around 640 million U.S. dollars a year from international agencies such as the World Bank and the Manila-based Asian Development Bank, as well as developed nations. But most statistics about the South-east Asian country make gloomy reading. Illiteracy rates are hovering at just below 70 percent rising to more than 80 percent among women. Infant mortality is 135 per 1,000 births. Over the last decade, the rate has risen - one of the few countries in which this has happened - from 115. Cambodia's legal system is considered to be one of the most corrupt in Asia, mainly because the judiciary is so closely controlled by the executive. Over 80 percent of the firms interviewed by the World Bank perceived the judiciary negatively. The Bank emphasised the importance of the judiciary in Cambodia to protect the economic rights of businesses and uphold contracts - including the enforcement of debt. But that does not seem to be the case in the country. ''In specific ratings of the courts, 91 percent of the respondents say the judiciary is only 'sometimes', 'seldom', or 'never' fair or impartial, 83 percent rate it negatively in terms of quickness, and ratings indicate that Cambodia is both a costly place to enforce a contract,'' the World Bank report pointed out.

A recent study done by the Phnom Penh-based Centre for Social Development indicated that there was a striking difference between the perception of corruption between government and prive sector workers. ''Government employees are much more likely to think that corruption 'greases the wheel'' and that most businesses pay bribes,'' the study indicated. On the other hand, the study revealed, Cambodian private employees are more likely to perceive bribery as normal and to believe that many of the poor are corrupt. According to Private Sector Forum, in Phnom Penh, about 120 million U.S. dollars is made in under-the-table payments from the manufacturing and service sectors. ''By removing impediments like corruption and the lack of transparency in public-private partnerships, the impact of the private sector on growth and service delivery can be much greater,'' Magdi Amin, who lead the World Bank team in writing the report, told reporters during its launch.

The World Bank wants the private sector to play a large role in the development of Cambodia's backward infrastructure in order to wean the country away from foreign aid for financing the provision of basic goods and services. Cambodia's electrification rate is one of the lowest outside sub-Saharan Africa. Safe drinking water is only limited to Phnom Penh, even though 90 percent of the population lives outside the capital. Rates of fixed and mobile telecommunications penetration are low by both regional and international standards at only 1.91 per 100 Cambodians, and the country's road network is the least developed in the region. ''There is significant hope for the private sector to play a large role in bridging the gap between the enormous financing requirement and the equally large financial shortfall in available funds for infrastructure provision,'' said the Bank's report.

But the World Bank, too, is not without blame when it comes to corruption. At a U.S. Senate hearing on corruption and multilateral development banks, in May, Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said that ''corrupt use of World Bank funds may exceed 100 billion dollars, and while the institution has moved to combat the problem, more must be done.'' Also at the hearing was Jeffrey Winters, an associate professor at North-western University. He said his research suggested corruption wasted about 100 billion dollars of World Bank funds, and when other multilateral development banks are included, the total rises to about 200 billion dollars. Winters testified that the World Bank's anti- corruption effort was having ''minimal effects" and the banks should all focus on supervising and auditing their lending. ''The lion's share of the theft of development funds occurs in the implementation of projects and the use of loan funds by client governments,'' he said.

In Cambodia, independent observers have questioned procedures followed by the World Bank's Forest Concession Management and Control Pilot Project. They claim that the Bank is perpetuating a system that is dedicated to rent capture by corrupt officials and their business associates, and which offers no accountability to forest users and inhabitants. ''The World Bank project is currently recommending that the Cambodian government allow renewed logging by six of the forest concessionaires for a further 25 years. All six companies have breached Cambodian law or the terms of their contracts and have demonstrated an absence of technical capacity,'' Mike Davis of the London-based environmental watchdog Global Witness told IPS. ''The World Bank claims that its over-riding priority for Cambodia is strengthening governance,'' said Davis. ''With respect to the forest sector, this appears to mean using loan money to provide concessionaires with the necessary paperwork so that they can continue to operate illegally.''

From Inter Press Service (subscription), World, by Sonny Inbaraj, 12 August 2004


New Rule to Keep Corruption at Bay

GUANGZHOU: A new regulation is being drawn up in South China's Guangdong Province to prevent recently resigned civil servants from entering businesses where they can take advantage of the connections they had as government officials.
According to the new regulation, part of the province's contribution to the nationwide battle against corruption, officials will only be able to take up such positions three years after they have left their government posts. The Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Personnel is drafting a new and detailed regulation to help standardize the resignation of the province's civil servants. The new regulation is expected to come into force in the second half of 2005 if it can be approved by the provincial People's Congress early next year. An official from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Personnel said the new regulation is aimed at preventing corruption in the prosperous province where development of the market economy is advanced.

The decision to draw up the new regulation came after a spate of complaints from local people's congress deputies and members of the provincial people's political consultative conference. The question they asked most frequently was why so many civil servants had recently resigned, the official told China Daily yesterday. Increasing numbers of graduates in the provinces are being attracted to a career in the civil service, which offers them good conditions, welfare, good promotion prospects and the chance to study abroad. The Guangdong Provincial People's Congress deputy Yang Jianyou said "there must be something fishy about" the growing number of civil servants who resigned to work in the local private sector. Many new opportunities for corruption exist, warned Yang, who supposed that senior officials who refused to take bribes while in office after they illegally granted a project to their contractors may have already agreed to take up highly paid posts at these firms after they resign. Yang urged the government departments to take effective and concrete measures to standardize the resignation of local civil servants and stamp out corruption.

Many civil officials, including some senior ones, have resigned to work in the local private sector in Guangdong in recent years. Jiang Chongzhou, former director of the Guangzhou Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, resigned to become the vice-general manager of a local property company in August 2003, for example. And in March 2002, Liu Zhihang, former executive director of the Shunde District of Foshan, also resigned. Liu who was also once the director of the Shunde District Bureau of Finance, was immediately appointed vice-president of Shunde Midea Holding Co Ltd, a Shenzhen Stock Exchange-listed company and a leading Chinese home appliance maker. Jiang and Liu were estimated to be earning more than 1 million yuan (US$120,000) a year, more than 10 times their original annual income.

From China Daily, China, by Zheng Caixiong, 16 August 2004

Cambodia Seeks to Convince Investors It Will Fight Corruption

PHNOM PENH - Cambodia's leader sought to assure investors Friday that his government will introduce business reforms in an apparent response to a recent World Bank report that slammed the country for its corruption and weak rule of law. Prime Minister Hun Sen said the government had taken "concrete measures'' to improve the investment climate, including steps to reduce non-tariff business costs for imports and exports, the elimination of licensing requirements and an overhaul of inspection practices. "Cambodia has no other better choice than moving forward with all these steadfast reforms,'' Hun Sen said on Friday at a one-day government forum held annually for local and foreign investors.
"A healthy private sector is key to promoting economic development,'' he said. "With commitment to continued reforms, our chance to survive would be 90 percent, while surrendering the reforms, the chance would drop to only 10 percent." Hun Sen's comments came just one week after the release of a damning World Bank report, which said rampant corruption has paralysed private businesses and is hampering economic growth in Cambodia. The report, based on extensive survey of 800 firms across the country, said four-fifths of them acknowledged "the necessity of paying bribes'' in order to do business.

The report said "the message from the survey is one of weak rule of law, bureaucratic costs, and corruption. Cambodia firms identify corruption as their leading constraint." Other impediments include a 94-day period for private firms to apply for a business license, an unusually high number of inspections and high "time tax'' associated with government inspections, it said. Hun Sen did not refer to the report at Friday's meeting, but cited reforms that mirrored its recommendations.
The annual meeting attended by government officials, businesspeople and diplomats was scheduled before the report's release. Bretton G. Sciaroni, a partner at the consulting firm Sciaroni & Associates Ltd., said foreign direct investment in Cambodia has continued to decline in recent years and that "we need to reverse that trend." He welcomed Hun Sen's remarks, saying they "addressed the critical issues that are holding Cambodia back,'' and that much needed to be done before the country can compete with its neighbors for investment. The International Monetary Fund recently issued a bleak assessment of Cambodia's economy, predicting that growth will slow to 1.9 percent in 2005 from a projected 4.3 percent this year because of corruption and stringent regulations. - AP

From The Malaysia Star, Malaysia, 20 August 2004


 

Corruption Prague

Transparency International study shows the more things change, the more they stay the same
On the same day that former Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla threw in the towel, Transparency International CR announced the results of its new V4 City Corruption Propensity Index. This ambitious project attempts to gauge the state of anticorruption measures in the capitals of the four Visegrad countries (Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and Warsaw) and how they are perceived by selected target groups. Conceived by the local branch of Transparency International (TI), designed in cooperation with GfK Praha and conducted earlier this year by that company's local affiliates in the V4 capitals, the study provides insights into the state of the fight against corruption in the Golden City. It would be a shame if a superficial event in Czech political life overshadowed the study's deeply disturbing revelations. The study consists of two parts. The first part, called the objective part, is based on interviews with municipal employees who, because of their function, should be familiar with the anticorruption measures that are in place. This part addressed five areas of concern: how public procurement tenders are processed, internal audit and control mechanisms, codes of ethics, conflict-of-interest regulations and open-information policies. Progress in each of these areas was assessed for each of the four capitals and plotted on a 0-1 scale. The second, or subjective, part was based on approximately 100 interviews in each city, equally divided among civic associations/businessmen, journalists, members of city councils and municipal workers, about their perception of anticorruption efforts. Responses were similarly mapped on a 0-1 scale. The full study documents the objective and subjective parts in intriguing detail. For example, in the conflicts-of-interest section of the objective part one finds these among the 19 questions:
• Are ranking local authorities -- city council members, department heads and the like -- obliged to declare their activities, incomes and presents received for a certain calendar period? (Answer: yes in Budapest and Warsaw, no in Bratislava and Prague.)
• Are persons close to these high-ranking authorities obliged to declare their business activities related to city activities? (Answer: yes in Budapest and Warsaw, no in Bratislava and Prague.)
• Is there any rule setting a financial limit above which gifts to local authorities revert to the community? (Answer: once again, yes in Budapest and Warsaw, no in Bratislava and Prague.)
This objective part provides a useful template for critically comparing the rules and mechanisms in place in the various capitals. The answers suggest that the TI branches in Prague and Bratislava in particular have many questions still to ask.

Lessons to learn
Assuming that the data are reliable, three results stand out: First, in the aggregate index of the objective part, Budapest led the field with an impressive .865, followed by Warsaw with a modest .642 and Prague and Bratislava with even more modest scores of .598 and .553, respectively. Clearly, the people in charge in the Czech and Slovak capitals should take a lesson or two from their peers in Hungary. The answers to the conflicts-of-interest examples in the preceding paragraph suggest why. In the subjective section, which measures outside perceptions, Budapest still leads the field but with a less impressive .489, with Bratislava and Warsaw in a virtual tie for second at .438. Prague? Dead last with .403.
The difference between the objective and subjective scores can be interpreted as a rough measure of the effectiveness of the rules each of these cities has in place. (Although one has to be careful in interpreting the numbers, since they do not control for the efficacy of the media in following city hall politics, or how people's perceptions and expectations are affected by the differences documented in the objective part.) Most intriguingly, the disaggregated data shows that in all five areas of concern there are sharp differences of opinion among the respondents, depending on whether they are in the public or private sector.

For example, only about 25 percent of civic-association members, businesspeople and journalists believe Prague City Hall and its agencies abide by their own (minimal) regulations for awarding contracts, compared to 65 percent for municipal employees and 92 percent for City Council members. This gap is repeated in almost every question: Does the city administration live up to its mission and does it perform its activities ethically? Three-quarters of association members and businesspeople say no; more than 80 percent of city councilors and civic workers say yes. (Interestingly, so do a majority of journalists: 56 percent.) Are some companies bidding for public procurement contracts in construction favored at the expense of the rest? Eighty percent of the queried members of civic associations, businesspeople and journalists answered affirmatively, against about half of respondents from City Hall. And so it goes. Across all five areas of concern, civic-association members, businesspeople and, to a lesser extent, journalists consistently have a negative take on the state of anticorruption measures in the city of Prague, while members of City Council and municipal staff have a rather positive one.

Too little progress
What's the truth? After carefully studying the objective part of the TI report, I agree with the naysayers. The study documents a staggering ignorance of, or unwillingness to implement, effective anticorruption measures. For the sake of argument, though, let's say the City Council members and city employees got it right and everyone else got it wrong. City Hall would still have a tremendous problem, for it is ultimately perceptions that matter most. A civic administration that is so obviously eyed suspiciously by its citizens is likely to invite problems of, say, tax evasion. Never mind a general cynicism towards municipal authorities. A little more than two years ago, then-Prague Mayor Jan Kasl resigned because of his distinct impression that City Hall was organized in such a way that it was impossible to eliminate corruption. The V4 City Corruption Propensity Index provides strong evidence that little, if any, progress has been made since then.

From Prague Post, Czech Republic, by Andreas Ortmann, 5 August 2004

 

 

 

Seminar On Good Governance Ends

Bandar Seri Begawan - The seminar on "Good Governance: Building Organisation Integrity and Corruption Resistance Within Public Sector" drew to a close yesterday afternoon. It ended with a certificate presentation to participants from Anti-Corruption Bureau and eight other relevant government agencies. The certificates were presented to all the participants by the guest of honour, Datin Hjh Intan, Director of Anti Corruption Bureau. The three-day seminar was facilitated by Prof. Tony Kwok, former Deputy Commissioner of Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong. In an interview, Prof Kwok shared his experience working with ICAC for 27 years to successfully combat the then very widespread and syndicated corruption in Hong Kong. He said that the Hong Kong experience demonstrated that it is possible to eradicate corruption, no matter how serious the problem, given the political will and a professional anti-corruption body. He added that he had developed a strong passion in the fight against corruption and hoped to be able to devote part of his retired life to provide voluntary anti-corruption consultation, advice or training service to those organisations that may find his experience and knowledge useful. He added that the successful factors in cleaning up the corrupt image of Hong Kong encompassed political will, support from all sectors, government financial support, and professional-trained people as well as to change and educate the public's mindset. Hong Kong, he said, should be cited as an example for every country to solve the corruption issue. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin.

From Bru Direct, Brunei, Darussalam, by Zalia Zaini, 11 August 2004

 

 

 

World Bank Reviews Policy On Oil

The World Bank has adopted new financing regulations aimed at preventing corrupt leaders from shoring up their regimes using oil and gas revenue, it was announced yesterday. The bank, however, rejected demands that it stops funding petroleum projects altogether. "There was broad consensus that we should remain engaged because we do add value to the business," Mr Rashad Kaldany, director of the World Bank's oil, gas and mining department, said. He said the bank will henceforth require companies and countries to undertake public disclosure of the monetary institution's views on corruption in a country before a loan for a oil or gas project is made available. Kaldany said the World Bank management would rework some aspects of the changes in the next few weeks. Lending to the oil mining sector has come under heavy criticism from activists who accuse the bank of allowing corrupt regimes to consume its funds at the expense of their poor citizens. "The World Bank has missed an historic opportunity to bring its lending in line with its mission," said Nadia Martinez, an analyst at the Institute of Policy Studies, which has been critical of the bank's lending programmes in poor nations. US companies including Halliburton and ExxonMobil have benefited from the World Bank's funding of oil projects in poor countries such as Chad, and Azerbaijan. Last year, the bank approved $11 billion in loans to the oil and gas mining amid demands that it pulls out of the sector.

An independent review panel of the bank recently recommended that it pulls out of oil, gas and coal mining projects by 2008, saying such loans do not benefit the poor who live where the natural resources are found. The World Bank agreed to an approach that is "business as usual with marginal changes," according to Emil Salim, the Indonesian official that led the bank's review of the oil projects. The Extractive Industries Review found that World Bank-funded oil and gas projects have not contributed significantly to poverty alleviation, he wrote in a report to the bank's board in June. Meanwhile, US stocks fell as investor worry about high energy costs hurting corporate profits intensified as oil prices approached $48 a barrel. But investors will get some diversion as Google Inc. makes its debut on the the Nasdaq. Google, the year's most anticipated initial public offering priced far below initial estimates, fetching just $85 per share and raising $1.67 billion as it was hit by a string of missteps and lackluster market conditions. Concerns that surging oil prices will hurt corporate earnings in terms of both higher costs and softer demand for their products have dogged stocks for weeks. Crude futures have set records in 14 out of the past 15 trading sessions. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 24.85 points, or 0.24 percent, at 10,058.30.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Kennedy Senelwa of The East African Standard, Nairobi, 19 August 2004

 

 

 

Civil Servants Update Knowledge On Anti-Graft

Top public officers would converge in Abuja between August 11 and 13 to update their knowledge on new frameworks for operational engagement ocassioned by various anti-corruption and good governance initiatives. In a released signed by the Chairman, Exam Ethics Project and National Coordinator, Project Edge, Mr. Ike Onyechere, the programme termed "Project Edge - Ethics, Due Diligence and Good Governance Empowerment Programme" comes against the background of various anti-graft and good governance initiatives, which have created new ethical, legal, regulatory, legislative, administrative, accounting, auditing, due diligence and due process framework. The civil servants, according to the statement, are expected to update their knowledge on these new frameworks on new rules of operational engagement and on critical issues Delegates to the conference include Commissioners, Secretaries to the State Governments, Head of Service, Heads of Parastatals, Auditors-General and Accountants-General. Others are local government chairmen, members of Local Government Service Commissions and House committees on local government, service providers, NGOs, multilateral agencies, professional associations and members of the organised private sector. Each delegate would receive at least 13 publications on best practices and good governance, a thousand Code of Conduct Bureau handbooks and ICPC prepared anti-corruption handbook for local government officials. Project Edge is implemented by Exam Ethics Project Ethics Resource Centre in response to the call in NEEDS policy document for proactive public-private collaboration to promote the successful implementation of NEEDS and generally contribute to government's anti-corruption and good governance initiatives.

From This Day News, Nigeria, by Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 1 August 2004


State to Crack Down on Lazy Civil Servants

The government will get tough on lazy civil servants who treat the public with disdain, the cabinet decided on Wednesday. All public servants, especially those interacting directly with the public, will be made to wear name tags and the performance of directors-general and other senior managers will be evaluated on the basis of service to citizens. Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe said after the weekly cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the government was concerned about the treatment the public received at the hands of civil servants. To intensify the government's Batho Pele campaign "We have a tendency in our country for ordinary citizens to cower when they are faced with public servants, especially at the coalface where these public servants are interacting with the public. "A campaign of educating the public about their rights when they interact with the public service will be launched," he said. "Those public servants who interact directly with the public should all have name tags so that if anything happens that goes against the proper service... the public is able to report these people to the relevant authorities," he said. There will also be surprise visits to government departments to pounce on such public servants, he said.

To intensify the government's Batho Pele campaign, directors-general and other senior public managers would have their performance contracts evaluated on the basis of service delivery to the public. He added that the cabinet would also be tough on monitoring and evaluating government programmes that were posted on the internet, at the insistence of President Thabo Mbeki. The presidency, the national Treasury and the departments of provincial and local government and public service and administration, are to do the monitoring. "The cabinet... decided to adopt a principled framework for the establishment of a monitoring and evaluation system across all spheres of government. "The cabinet also noted that in the immediate sense, while involved in the cycle to report back on the programmes which are on the government website, reports by various clusters are already coming to cabinet and, once this cycle of reporting has been completed in two weeks' time, we will then update the programmes on the website," he said. The cabinet had also decided to review the impact of anti-corruption campaigns on government, the private sector and civil society. "It was decided that an anti-corruption summit should be convened towards the end of the year, possibly in November," Netshitenzhe said, adding that the last summit was in 1999.

From Independent Online, South Africa, by Moshoeshoe Monare, 5 August 2004

 

Public Servants Want More Funding for ICPC

Participants at the just concluded 'Capacity Building Retreat on Imperative Code of Ethics and Due Diligence in the Conduct of Government Business' organised by the Exam Ethics Project (EEP), have called on the Federal Government to allocate more funds to the Independent and Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), if the anti-corruption war is to be effectively prosecuted.The Chairman of EEP, Mr. Ike Onyechere, told newsmen at the weekend that civil servants, having been exposed to the activities and challenges of ICPC, Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Code of Conduct Bureau etc during the retreat, agreed that only improved funding will yield the desire results. He said the participants were amazed to learn that the ICPC for instance, had only 30 investigators covering the whole of 36 states of the federation including Abuja as compared to Hong Kong, which had 1,000 investigators. They were also disheartened to learn that the funding proposed for ICPC was sharply cut by the National Assembly. Onyechere said they have also resolved to lobby the National Assembly on the issue. "It is important for the anti-corruption agencies to get all the support they need. Already their successes are being commended abroad with some countries that had wrong perception about the country desiring to come and invest. The question of more funding should not be debated", he said. The participants were given certificates at the end of the retreat.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Juliana Taiwo, Abuja, 16 August 2004


Poor Pay Behind Civil Servants Quitting Jobs

The high turnover of qualified and well-trained staff continues to dog the public service, with low salaries cited as the major reason. In its annual report for 2003-04 presented to the National Assembly on Tuesday, the Public Service Commission says that in the past year it was regularly approached by ministries to recommend salary adjustments for certain job categories to retain the services of existing staff or to attract suitably qualified people for other posts. As of March this year, 76 373 people were employed as civil servants. During the past year, 1 781 people left the public service - the largest number (721) from the Basic Education sector, followed by the Health Ministry (387). Almost half the staff turnover was attributed to resignations and 22 per cent to deaths. The Basic Education Ministry also lost the highest number of staff (45) to voluntary early retirement during 2003 as well as the highest number because of medical reasons (80). In total, 64 people retired from the public service before the retirement age of 55; another 165 were discharged for medical reasons.

The Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Joseph Ithana, notes that the lack of qualified and experienced people in many fields, particularly the sciences, had caused the public service to rely on employing foreigners, especially in the Ministry of Health and Social Services. Of the 116 foreigners employed by Government, 76 work in the health sector while another 13 are employed in education. The contracts of at least 110 expatriates had to be renewed during the period under review - 66 of them to allow for their continued service in the country's health service. The Public Service Commission approved the appointment of 57 people in management posts between April 2003 and March 2004 - 49 of which were in the Ministry of Regional and Local Government and Housing.

The report says this can be largely attributed to the restructuring of regional councils. At least 83 new appointments were made in posts below managerial level - the largest number also in the Regional and Local Government and Housing Ministry, followed by the Ministries of Labour and Health. The Attorney General's office also saw the highest number of promotions to managerial posts during 2003-4 - 13 of the total number of 50. At least 454 people were promoted to ordinary level posts - almost a quarter of them in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, followed by Finance and Health. Of the 21 people suspended from the civil service during the period under review, 10 were for fraud, while another five were suspended for sexual relationships with school-goers. Government also discharged 56 people from its employ for misconduct - the largest number (19) from the Health Ministry and another five each from the Ministries of Agriculture, Basic Education and Environment.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Lindsay Dentlinger of The Namibian, Windhoek, 20 August 2004

 

Civil Servants Cautioned against Involving in Partisan Politics

GNA - The Gomoa District branch of the Civil Servants Association of Ghana has called on politicians to desist from luring civil servants into partisan politics. Mr Assane Odoom, the Secretary of the Association, who made the call, appealed to civil servants not to allow themselves to be used by politicians to champion their ambitions. Speaking at a meeting of members of the Association to dilate on pertinent issues including end-of-service benefit, Mr Odoom said many civil servants had either lost their jobs or were transferred because of their open support for political parties. "Though civil servants could join any political party they should not indicate publicly their support," he advised. Mr Odoom commended President J.A. Kufuor for taking prompt action to resolve the impasse over the agitation of workers to reverse the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Pension Scheme to the Cap 30 Pension Scheme by setting up the Bediako Commission. Mr Joseph Obeng, Gomoa District Principal Personnel Officer, expressed concern about indiscipline at work places and cautioned civil servants against divulging information to unauthorised people. Miss Comfort Morgan, the treasurer, dilated on the preparations being made for the take-off of the District Health Insurance Scheme in September and urged civil servants to get involve in the education campaign.

From GhanaWeb, Ghana, 20 August 2004

 

 



 

 

 

Appraisal System for Civil Servants to Stay

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government has no plans to abolish the competency appraisal system despite calls by Cuepacs to do so, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman said. He said the system was considered still relevant as a performance appraisal mechanism for civil servants. "The old method for promotion or salary increment for civil servants through assessment by heads of department was open to unfairness and discrimination within the department," he told reporters after presenting a keynote address at the National Integrity Plan Seminar at Intan, here. Appraisal through the system was also in line with the Government's intention to appoint civil servants based on knowledge, he said. - Bernama

From The Malaysia Star, Malaysia, 2 August 2004

 

Justice Ministry Forms Unit to Bolster Government Ethics

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) formed a special task force yesterday to gather evidence concerning suspected corruption or graft cases involving senior government officials, judicial personnel or other public functionaries holding sensitive positions. Minister of Justice Chen Ding-nan said the special squad would initially target more than 10 judges and prosecutors suspected of involvement in graft. He did not reveal the names except saying "they themselves should know who I'm talking about." Chen noted that the launch of the special squad epitomizes the government's determination to crack down on official corruption and establish clean politics. He said the team will mainly focus on investigating high-ranking government officials (position grades 10-14), judicial personnel, other civil servants holding more sensitive posts. MOJ officials said the establishment of the graft-fighting squad is a government response to opposition criticism that the MOJ usually targets comparatively minor rather than major official corruption cases and has so far failed to pinpoint any crucial or significant graft cases.

The special squad will be manned by MOJ staff members responsible for government ethics and will be supervised by the MOJ's Government Ethics Department. MOJ officials said ordinary citizens were welcome to provide leads by calling (02) 2316-7586 to report suspicious activities by officials. Minister Chen also welcomes letters directly addressed to him from those who fear that their identities might be exposed. Once a reported case is accepted, the squad will contact the informant within 24 hours and send staffers to interview the informant within 72 hours. The officials further said the squad will not adopt paparazzi-style operations to keep from infringing the personal privacy of the targets of the investigations. "In any event, all squad members will operate within the scope of the law," said Kuan Kao-yueh, acting director of the Government Ethics Department. The team will not trespass the administrative turfs of other departments or agencies either. Kuan said his department will maintain close contact with anti-corruption units in other public agencies and local-level governments in the fight against scams committed by government employees. In the past four years ending in May this year, 1,015 officials and elected representatives in the central government were indicted for alleged corruption cases, compared with 2,389 in local government agencies. Middle or senior level officials and elected officials accounted for one third of those indicted, according to the MOJ statistics.

From China Post, Taiwan, by Staff, Taipei, 2 August 2004

 

Government May Consider Raising Retirement Age for Public Servants

The government will consider extending the retirement age for public servants from the current ceiling of 65 years as part of its efforts to cope with the country's fast-growing silver-haired population, a government official said Thursday. Hu Sheng-cheng (???), chairman of the Cabinet-level Council for Economic Planning and Development, made the comment following a CEPD seminar on Taiwan's demographic changes in which scores of experts and representatives of civic groups discussed the issue. According to Hu, elderly people should not be a burden for society if they are a well-trained and high-quality workforce. The government's population policy must not just focus on issues related to quantity, but should also pay heed to quality, he said. In the face of the severe impact on the country's workforce caused by the rapidly aging population, Hu said the government's budget allocations must be thoroughly adjusted to tackle the changing situation to allow a better quality of life for the elderly. It was reported in the seminar that Taiwan's population will register zero growth in 12 years and will post negative growth in 17 years. By 2051, the number of citizens aged over 65 will have reached around 6.95 million. In 1981, Taiwan women delivered their first child at an average age of 23.2, with the average raising to 26.7 last year. The average number of children born to each Taiwan couple also fell from 2.4 to 1.2 during the same period, lower than 1.34 in Singapore, 1.9 in France and 2.0 in the United States. Amid the continued drop in the birthrate, maintaining stable growth in Taiwan's workforce is a major task, which CEPD officials said is a critical issue that affects the country's competitive edge.

From eTaiwan News, Taiwan, 6 August 2004


Gov't to Legalize Public Workers' Trade Unions

The government on Monday decided not to lift a ban on strikes by civil servants, although it will allow them to organize labor unions. The Labor Ministry and the ruling Uri Party on Monday announced that they had finalized a draft bill designed to legalize public workers' trade unions without giving them the right to call strikes or engage in political activities. Ministry officials said the bill will be presented to the plenary session of the National Assembly this fall in order to gain approval. Public servants immediately protested the bill, calling on the government to fully guarantee their labor rights, including the right to collective action. According to the bill, civil employees will be entitled to organize and bargain collectively, but will be strictly banned from staging walkouts. "We've decided to continue to ban strikes by government employees because of concerns that collective action would cause not only public inconvenience but also a halt of administrative services. Their political activities will be also banned in order to ensure their neutrality,'' a ministry official said during a new conference. But civil servants will be able to negotiate over salary, welfare, and other working conditions.

Except high-ranking officials and other civil servants like teachers who already have basic labor rights, about 300,000 to 350,000 among the nation's 910,000 public servants will enjoy the new rights if the bill becomes law. Even though the Constitution acknowledges workers' rights in collective action, laws on the establishment of labor unions have prohibited public workers from forming labor organizations or engaging in collective action. However, about 140,000 civil servants have organized two unauthorized unions since 2002, calling for the full guarantee of their rights. After the announcement of the government plan, the public servants' groups and other labor unions voiced opposition to the bill, saying it does not grant them the rights they need. "If our agreements on a pay raise can't be reflected in the budget, which is the source of our wage, it means nothing and union members will not unite together,'' said Seo Hyong-taek, director of the Korean Government Employees' Union (KGEU), one of the unauthorized civil servants' unions. "Moreover, the bill restricts the rights to stage legal strikes. Even though public opinion is not in favor of demonstrations these days, basic rights still cannot be withheld,'' Seo said. The KGEU plans to resist passage of the bill, staging a massive strike around November if necessary. It will also seek aid from lawmakers of the pro-labor Democratic Labor Party, Seo said.

From Korea Times, South Korea,by Kim Rahn, Staff Reporter, 23 August 2004



Civil Servants Looking Forward to Long-awaited 5-day Work Week

SINGAPORE : Civil servants are eagerly looking forward to their long awaited switch to a five-day work week. But some private sector companies still working five-and-half-days are starting to wonder how the change at Singapore's largest employer will affect their operations. Spending more time with the kids or just chilling out and taking a breather from work - many civil servants are already planning how they are going to spend their two full days off, when the five-day work week kicks in. One civil servant said, "It'll be good in the sense that you'll have more time to spend with the family." Another added, "At weekends after doing all the house chores, we are exhausted. By the time we come to Monday, we are really having Monday blues and (are) not able to work."

Although many private sector companies already have five-day work weeks, those which do not are a little worried. Some think they will have to make the switch, or risk losing staff. Mildred Tan, Managing Director, Business Advisory Services, Ernst & Young Associates Pte Ltd, said, "One of the MNCs who called up this morning...asked what would be the implication for them if the civil service goes on a five day (week) and they're still on five and half. Officially, of course there's no implication because it's not legislated, so by all means, they can continue with the 5.5 days. "But really at the end of the day...it certainly depends on business needs, customers expectations, and responses to work, commitments, roles and responsibilities....all these are still there." And there is no reason why service has to suffer because staff work a five-day work week.

Just ask the Government's tax office. Patricia Mak, Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore, Assistant Commissioner, Corporate Services, said, "It's getting out to the staff, why you want a five-day work week - the policy and rationale behind it is important and when we went out with ours, we made it very clear that it's to provide a six-day service to taxpayers. I think if the rationale comes out, if you move to a five-day work week, it's work-life balance, but the organisation's operation should not suffer, staff will accept it and the organisation will progress." About 96 percent of the employees have opted for the flexible work week. And IRAS says workers are happier, productivity has improved and this is also a major selling point during recruitment drives. One person commented, "We will adjust some how to make sure productivity is not affected, not go down, it should be maintained. It should not affect because there should be internal arrangements to cover your duties when either team is off duty for that weekend." Another added, "As long as we put our heart fully to those five days, I don't think it'll affect our work." Dr Amy Khor, Committee on Marriage and Procreation, said, "If you want to encourage babies, or Singaporeans to have more babies, then you must have a conducive environment, a pro-family environment. "And I think the five-day work week really recognises the importance of having a work-life balance, helping Singaporeans to have more time with their family to bond." - CNA


From Channel News Asia, Singapore, by Wong Siew Ying, 23 August 2004



 

 

 

Premier Seeks Sweeping Powers to Dismiss Top Civil Servants

Marek Belka's government has prepared a project, which grants the prime minister unlimited power of dismissing the heads of central public administration offices. The proposed amendments to the bill, to be discussed by the government today, state that the prime minister will have the right to sack the heads of these offices and state agencies when they "act contradictory to the policy set by the cabinet." The new regulations concern 31 central offices whose heads are chosen via a competition and are appointed for a specific term of office. According to some analysts, the powers could be abused and, "May be used as a tool to put pressure on the heads of offices by the government," commented professor Anna Fornalczyk. (Rzeczpospolita, pp. A1, A3) E.B.

From Warsaw Business Journal, Poland, 11 August 2004

 

Civil Servants Told To Shun Incompetence And Corruption

Bandar Seri Begawan - Government servants in the public service sector were told how important it is to uphold a pious character, avoid corruption, abuse of power and self-importance while carrying out their duty in order to maintain the integrity of the country's public service. Pehin Dato Awg Hj Hazair, Permanent Secretary at the Prime Minister Office, highlighted this yesterday while opening the Public Service Symposium on "Enhancing the Integrity of the Public Service's Management and Administration" at the International Convention Centre. Pehin Awg Hj Hazair defined integrity as ensuring the capability of the country's public service in providing an excellent, high quality service that is satisfactory to clients, who comprise the public, private sector and government agencies. "This also includes providing competitive and innovative services that are fully disciplined, clean, competent and responsible," he added.

The public service is seen as the backbone of the country's administration while managing and facilitating the public needs in the form of administration, control, enforcement and welfare. The clients' faith and reliability are significant ingredients in public service, he said. "Faith, in this aspect, is not only towards officers but also towards the government's machinery in administration and management services," he added. "Integrity", he reiterated, "plays the most important role in reflecting how competent and effective the administrative machinery is in the nation's development and progress to secure the nation's future and coming generation". Stating the vision of Brunei's Public Service, Pehin Awg Hj Hazair said, "It is to make it as an institute with quality and excellence complying with the Islamic image in a healthy and safe environment based on the guidance of Allah. "In this context, the public service's prime mission is to achieve excellence through discipline according to the Islamic teachings," he said.

Basically, excellence in public services can be achieved through carrying out the duty and responsibility with clean, competent, honest and responsible characteristics, he added. To achieve excellent work with integrity, he underlined several important Islamic work ethics that need to be studied, amongst them are: good deeds, work sincerely with dedication, fair and just, responsible, 'al-quwwah' (strength), 'hafiz' (administer and manage skills), 'alim' (knowledge), 'syura' (negotiate) and 'Hablun Min Allah' and 'Hablun An-Nas'. An accomplished management and administration services, added the Permanent Secretary, can be reflected through the aspect of organisation and human resource in the public service. Touching on human resources, he said, "Each public service's personnel should carry their duties with sincerity, honesty, and responsibility based on the teachings and by authority of Islam".

At the organisational level, things should be based on how to achieve their vision and mission through the existing relevant mechanisms, regulations, acts and legislation, and how it is implemented effectively, he said. Taking note that client's service demands are getting more sophisticated besides having high expectations, the Permanent Secretary stressed, "His Majesty's government is serious in its undertakings to ensure the smooth operation of the administration machinery in creating a more customer focused and customer friendly service." In this view, the role of ministries and government departments in providing high quality services is greatly challenged, he pointed out. This means the nation's administrative machinery should undergo changes not only in terms of procedure and policy but also from the work culture aimed to improvise and fulfill the client's needs. And this requires the leadership of senior officials in the public service, who comprise permanent secretaries and their deputies, department heads and their deputies followed by heads of sections and units in ministries and departments. Pehin Awg Hj Hazair reminded government servants that "the responsibility of nurturing integrity in the public service should be carried out in a unified and collaborated way at all levels of officers and staff in the public service not taking into consideration their rank and post".


From Bru Direct, Brunei Darussalam, by CT Hj Mahmod, 5 August 2004

 
 

U.S. Funds E-Government Feasibility Study

The US government through the its Trade and Development Agency has granted Uganda $318,000 (Shs550 million). The money will be used to fund a feasibility study for an integrated information and communications technology (ICT) network for government-related functions (e-government) in Uganda. The feasibility study was requested by the government and is a first step in the country's implementation of its recently developed National ICT Policy. The policy is designed to improve efficiency and transparency of government operations, and to introduce modern information technology solutions to a broad spectrum of government affairs. The study will review key ministries' requirements, develop action plans for implementation and assist in developing a set of national standards and the architecture necessary for e-government programmes in Uganda. The U.S. team selected to conduct the study will also develop a procurement plan and help to establish an e-government Programme Management Office to oversee the implementation of the project. Initially, the project will focus on the ministries of Finance, Health, and Education, in addition to Ministry of Works, Housing and Communication. The U.S. Ambassador, Mr Jimmy Kolker and Mr Gerald Ssendaula, the Minister of Finance, signed the grant agreement on behalf of their respective governments. The U.S. Trade and Development Agency advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests in developing and middle-income countries.The agency funds various forms of technical assistance, feasibility studies, training, orientation visits and business workshops that support the development of a modern infrastructure and a fair and open trading environment.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Muhereza Kyamutetera of The Monitor, Kampala, 12 August 2004

 

 

 

Several E-governance Projects to be Implemented in a Phased Manner

The Minister of Communications & IT, Shri Dayanidhi Maran, has called for an extensive and imaginative use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in day-to-day management of urban local bodies with a view to increase their effectiveness and efficiency of their operations. Shri Maran said, "ICTs have a particularly vital role to play in transforming the interface between governments and the citizens they serve, particularly in urban agglomerations". He said that because of growing literacy and awareness levels among citizens, their expectations in terms of services from the local bodies are also rising rapidly. It is, therefore, imperative that these bodies are geared to provide efficient services, meet the demands of the citizens and make their interaction with municipalities easy and simple, while ensuring accountability and transparency. Shri Maran said this while delivering the valedictory address at the "National Seminar on e-Governance in Municipalities", orgainised by the Ministry of Urban Development and Department of Information Technology, here today.

Shri Maran stated that e-Governance programmes need to be stabilised, enhanced, replicated and spread to overcome the increasing digital divide between municipal bodies across the country and speed up proliferation of the successes. He said that a number of municipal corporations, particularly in the States of Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have successfully implemented e-Governance programmes. The Department of Information Technology has been in close touch with the Urban Development Ministry to take these initiatives forward, he stated. Shri Maran said that e-Governance Action Plan has been included in the top 10 Priorities of his Ministry. The e-Governance Action Plan envisages several Mission Mode Projects principally focussed on improving service delivery to citizens and businesses. Under this plan, the projects would be undertaken by both the Centre and the States for countrywide implementation in a phased manner over the next 2-3 years. "It is my desire to make the National e-Governance Action Plan result-oriented and citizen-focussed. I am quite keen to ensure that the results are visible in a short duration with tangible benefits to citizens", Mr. Maran said. He disclosed that a National Conference on e-Governance would be called for in the next year as culmination of such sectoral conferences in order to evolve and refine the overall strategy to improve State Government services to the common man.

Several states have implemented e-Governance projects successfully. Many of these are well known and well recognised today, for example, Bhumi for land records in Karnataka, E-Seva or common service centres in Andhra Pradesh, STAR in Tamil Nadu and Sarita in Maharashtra for property registration. "We need not reinvent the wheel in such cases. Instead, we should identify the successes and use them as a basis for rapid implementation in other states or at other locations in the same state" Shri Maran said. The Minister further said that the Ministry of Communication & IT has evolved a programme to provide handholding support to states and agencies that wish to implement the e-governance projects rapidly based on the successes achieved elsewhere. This approach may be extended to e-governance in municipalities, he added.
.

From Press Information Bureau (press release), India, 3 August 2004


S Korea, Thailand Agree on E-government Dealr

Seoul - South Korea and Thailand agreed on Thursday to forge a closer cooperation in the e-government sector, the South Korean government said. The agreement was reached after a meeting between South Korea's Information and Communication Minister Chin Dae-je and his Thai counterpart Surapong Suebwongle in Bangkok. Among the areas of cooperation discussed were a South Korean proposal to help Thailand put its government online, develop software and train workforce for the project, the South Korean ministry said. Chin was in Bangkok to attend an annual meeting of telecommunications ministers from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as well as South Korea, China and Japan.
.

From Asia Times Online, Hong Kong, 5 August 2004



 

E-government, STANCA: 132 Projects Presented by Local Bodies

Rome, Italy - IT tools to alow citizens to actively take part in public administration, especially at a local level. 'Electronic democracy' is meeting with great success in our country, as the 132 projects submitted by local bodies for its development prove. That's what the Minister for Technological Innovation Lucio Stanca said. "The many, and extremely exhaustive projects presented prove that local administrations focus a lot on this issue, and want to increase the democratic participation of citizens, improving their relations with the public administration". According to Stanca, this is the "real first step towards an efficient devolution". The 132 projects submitted were all sent to the CNIPA via e-mail, and signed with a digital signature: 16 came from regional governments, 17 from Provincial Councils, 81 from Municipal Councils, 15 from Mountain communities and 3 from Municipaliy Unions. 75 pct of the projects involve a vast participation of society: 750 category, citizens and consumer associations, Onlus, GNOs, unions, freelance professional workers orders, tourist information offices and parish churches are all ready to support this project, offering human and financial resources. According to the minister "it is worth stressing that more than half of the bodies involved are the ones representing towns with less than 5000 people". Stanca also said that "despite the 10 mln euros allocated with a maximum co-funding of 50 pct by the proposing bodies, the overall value of the projects total 73 mln euros, for a minimum cost of 20,000 euros to a maximum of 7.5 mln, and an average cost of 600,000 euros per project". (AGI)

From Agenzia Giornalistica Italia, Italy, 16 August 2004

 

 

State Managing Better, Says Manuel

Government's management of its finances had improved substantially since the late 1990s , Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said yesterday after introducing legislation for Parliament to retrospectively authorise R50m in unauthorised expenditure incurred by national departments. The improvements were attributed largely to the implementation of the Public Finance Management Act, which had raised levels of transparency and accountability at national and provincial level. The act required departments to table strategic plans and report to Parliament on their performance relative to measurable objectives. A key focus in future, Manuel said, would be to strengthen the capacity of Parliament to exercise an oversight role. The R50m proposed for authorisation in the Finance Bill covers unauthorised expenditure dating back to 1998.
Unauthorised expenditure is not the same as money lost or wasted it can result from overspending by departments or their failure to follow proper procedures. The largest contribution to the R50m was the R27,4m unauthorised expenditure by the correctional services department. Manuel said an enormous training programme was under way to help the implementation of the Municipal Finance Management Act, Emphasis would firstly be given to the six metropolitan councils whose budgets totalled roughly 65% of SA's total municipal expenditure. Manuel reiterated his call for a debate on the allocation of powers and functions between the different spheres of government. "If we want the best quality of service to be delivered then we must examine these issues," Manuel said.

From AllAfrica.com, by Linda Ensor of Business Day, Johannesburg, 20 August 2004


Govt Introduces System to Monitor Use of Public Funds

The Government has introduced a financial management information system to monitor usage of public funds, Finance Minister David Mwiraria has said. He said the system would enable the Treasury to monitor resource mobilisation, allocation and the rate at which the funds were being spent. Mwiraria said the Government would also have a public expenditure tracking system that will follow the flow of the resources and assess whether the expenditure was achieving the desired results. The minister was speaking at Leisure Lodge in Kwale during a meeting meant to acquaint Kenyan diplomats with what the Government was doing. He said the Government had embarked on reform of the tax administration to improve the tax collection in the country. He said tax collection has to be improved to enable the Government collect duties due to it so that such revenue could be directed to developments that would benefit the public. The minister said the Government has also introduced measures to ensure importers do not under-value imports by lowering prices to evade tax. He said the envoys would be called upon to help the Government establish the real prices of imports. He said substandard and counterfeit products will not be allowed into the country as they undercut local producers, who need to be protected. He added that the Government would not renew the licence for current Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI) contracts that expire in June next year. The minister said that beginning next July, inspection of imports would be done locally using a combination of tools, including container scanning machines.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Willis Oketch of The East African Standard, Nairobi, 25 August 2004


 

 

Keep Brake on Public Spending, Warns Finance

Public spending must be kept under tight control, even though the economic outlook is brighter than it has been for some time, the Department of Finance has warned. Una McCaffrey reports Ahead of the appointment of a new minister and key autumn negotiations on spending plans for next year, the Department has warned that public spending growth must remain in line with the rise in tax revenues. This is essential if a low tax burden is to be maintained to spur economic growth. The Department's annual review and outlook, published yesterday, predicts that borrowing this year could be €1 billion less than forecast, which is sure to raise speculation of scope for higher spending and a generous Budget. The Department has raised its growth forecasts for 2004 to reflect the developing strength of the global and domestic economies. The upgrades see Gross National Product - viewed by many as the best measure of activity on the ground - growing by 4.2 per cent this year, up from an earlier forecast of 3 per cent. Rather than taking the more benign economic backdrop as a good time to increase spending, however, the Department is urging "sensible management" of Exchequer funds. "Our reputation for fiscal discipline has been hard won," the Department notes in the course of a lengthy argument for restraint. It points out that the economy faces numerous risks, such as the further strength of the euro and higher oil prices. A faltering in US and consequently euro-area growth is also highlighted. Domestic risks include pay increases exceeding levels agreed under the national pay agreement and excessive borrowing, the Department warns. The body of advice offered in the review will be seen as counsel directed in particular to the new minister for finance, widely expected to be Mr Brian Cowen.

The outgoing minister, Mr Charlie McCreevy, underlined the fiscal restraint theme in his comments on the economic review. He said the economy would only grow at its potential rate of about 5 per cent if "we continue to manage our public finances in a prudent and responsible manner". However, calls for extra spending in December will be supported by the Department's updated forecasts for the end-of-year Exchequer position. Instead of borrowing €2.8 billion this year, as estimated on Budget day, the State will now face a deficit of just €1.8 billion, the Department says. This drop in the deficit projection is due to the Exchequer taking in much more in taxes than it had expected. As well as a windfall of at least €677 million from the Revenue's investigations into offshore accounts, other taxes such as capital gains tax are forecast to come in at €600 million above target. Private-sector economists believe that even the revised forecasts may prove pessimistic.

The Minister for Education, Mr Dempsey, last night welcomed the review on behalf of the Government and said Mr McCreevy had left the economy well-positioned for the global upturn. Opposition parties were less generous. The Fine Gael finance spokesman, Mr Richard Bruton, said he hoped the Government would make better use of "taxpayers' hard-earned cash" in forthcoming budgets than it had done in the past. Labour's Ms Joan Burton accused Fianna Fail of simply preparing for "a pre-election spending splurge", while the Green Party's Mr Dan Boyle said the excess funds now available were the result of forcing too many medium-paid taxpayers into the highest tax bracket. The ICTU said the next Budget offered "a wonderful opportunity" for the Government to redistribute wealth and called in particular for adjustments to tax bands and credits aimed at low- to middle-income earners.

From Irish Times (subscription), Ireland, 19 August 2004

 

 

 

South Africa: The Two Basic Types of Privatisation Explained

There has been considerable discussion and concern about the wisdom of privatising publicly-owned business entities in SA. Hopefully this will clear up some of the confusion about the concept. There are two forms of privatisation. One is the wholesale selling of public business concerns to the private sector. There are normally various reasons for a state to do so. Among others, it is due to pressure certain governments receive from international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund from which they borrowed money. One of the conditions for repayment is usually that they should privatise so that they can pay the loan. This results in removal of certain important basic public services such as subsidisation of food, medicines and the like. This can be very detrimental and has affected a number of developing countries, for instance Zambia. The second form of privatisation is a type of partnership between the public and private sectors. It may be two-fold: governments sell part of their publicly owned concerns to the private sector because they are no longer productive, or hire the services from private sector such as the technology required by the public sector for efficiency. More often than not this is, in my view, a progressive form of privatisation. The reason people are so jittery about privatisation is the fear of the first form of privatisation. If readers have been following the previous articles in this column they will understand what I mean about economic structural adjustment policies and related dangers in developing countries. In my view people should analyse the real nature of privatisation before passing judgement on whether it is good or bad.

From City Vision, South Africa, by Vincent Diba

 

Privatisation Must Benefit Producer, Consumer

GABORONE - There is need for a collective response in the formulation and implementation of privatisation to make it a successful exercise. Closing a one-day workshop on privatisation in Botswana for BOCONGO and its affiliates in Gaborone recently, BOCONGO executive secretary Ketlhomilwe Moletsane said privatisation should include both the producer and consumer alike to ensure that they benefit equally. Moletsane said privatisation should be viewed as an important step as it is aimed at improving efficiency and service delivery. He advised that the exercise should ensure that services are not decentralised as it is the case now, but should rather create opportunities for the people by bringing services closer to them. Moletsane stated that corruption needed to be wiped out to pave way for a more successful and profitable privatisation, combined with skilled manpower. He expressed hope that privatisation would help wipe out retrenchments currently experienced in the private sector by way of engaging trained personnel and highly experienced personnel. Participants at the workshop supported the exercise and hoped that it would bring good results. They however said it should not be rushed for it to be successful. Some participants felt that privatisation is not necessary as the country has a small population to manage the thriving economy. Their main fear was that the exercise could only benefit foreigners. But others said the exercise would bring the desired results such as employment creation, fair treatment of employees and reasonable remunerations. BOPA

From Republic of Botswana, Botswana, by Daily News, 6 August 2004


South Africa's Minister of Finance Issues Code of Good Practice for BEE

The Code for Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), which sets a clear BEE framework for both public and private parties engaging in PPPs, creating certainty and ensuring a consistent approach, has been issued by the South African Ministry of Finance. It gives practical guidance to institutions on how to achieve BEE in the transaction advisor teams that government appoints for these complex projects. For a PPP, the Code provides a balanced scorecard with indicative targets and weightings for each element of the private party's equity structure, management, and subcontracting and local socio-economic impact. The Code also guides institutions on how to make appropriate decisions about BEE targets during the feasibility and procurement phases. Standardised PPP Provisions, issued in March this year, gives the precise contract terms which government expects to conclude in PPPs, including BEE provisions, which reflect the scorecard of the Code. In the PPPs concluded to date, black equity has been successfully achieved at between 25 percent and 40 percent of the private parties' shareholding, and sub-contracting in these deals has gone to a similar percentage of black enterprises. Small and medium enterprises are benefiting at local levels, and black management control is being sought and extended in all the projects.

To tackle the challenges faced in securing sound BEE in PPPs, the government has committed to three important interventions, which will roll out in the year ahead, including the establishment of an equity facility that will lower the cost of capital to black shareholders in PPPs. This facility will be designed in such a way that it will support independent financial and legal advice to black enterprises bidding for, negotiating and implementing PPP projects. Thirdly, the government is establishing an internship program to actively grow the number of experienced black transaction advisors in South Africa's PPP market. The Code, which has been finalized taking into account all comments received from both public and private parties since it was issued as a draft in December 2003, and the specific support interventions described above, will go a long way to further strengthening PPPs' contribution to BEE. The Minister of Finance has also submitted the Code to the Minister of Trade and Industry with a request that he consider issuing it in terms of the Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment Act after advice from the BEE Advisory Council, once the Council has been established in terms of the BBBEE Act.

From Tacy, Ltd., Israel, 9 August 2004



IFC: Morocco Secures World's First Public-Private Partnership Irrigation Project

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, recently announced that the government of Morocco chose - in a highly competitive and transparent bidding process - a private partner for the planned public private partnership (PPP) irrigation project in the citrus-growing area of Guerdane, Taroudant province. The Guerdane project is the first PPP irrigation project in the world. Surface water is urgently needed for irrigated citrus farming in the 10,000 hectare Guerdane perimeter, which currently depends largely on the extraction of rapidly diminishing groundwater supplies drawn up from the Souss basin. "It is estimated that more than 100,000 people earn their living, either directly or indirectly, from citrus farming in the Guerdane perimeter, which is noteworthy for its dynamism, high-level of productivity and innovation in the commercialization of citrus production to both local and external markets," said Sami Haddad, IFC director for Middle East and North Africa. "The success of the bidding process for the Guerdane PPP irrigation project sets a worldwide precedent for future irrigation investments in a very difficult global environment."

IFC - with the support of a technical assistance grant from France's Fonds D'études et D'aide au Secteur Privé - provided the government with advice on structuring and implementing the Guerdane PPP irrigation project to deliver a high-quality, accountable and financially and environmentally sustainable public service to end-users. The bid for the Guerdane PPP irrigation project was won by a consortium led by Omnium Nord-Africain (ONA), a Moroccan industrial conglomerate, and therefore heralds the creation of Morocco's first ever domestic private infrastructure operator. Other members of the consortium include Morocco's Caisse de Depot et Gestion, France's Compagnie Nationale d'Amenagement de la Rrgion du Bas-Rhone et du Languedoc, and Infrastructure Development and Management, an Austrian firm.

As part of its contractual obligations, the ONA-led consortium will enter into a 30-year concession for the construction, co-financing, and management of an irrigation network. The network will channel water from a dam complex, located some 60 miles from Guerdane, to some 600 citrus farmers. The Guerdane irrigation project will cost an estimated US$85 million to build, of which the Moroccan government will provide around US$50 million - half as a loan and half in grant form. The tariff structure submitted by the ONA-led consortium is significantly lower than the price that citrus farmers in Guerdane typically pay for irrigated groundwater supplies. Hassan Benabderrazik, general secretary of the Moroccan ministry of agriculture, expressed great satisfaction with the outcome of the bidding process, saying, "By bringing in the private sector, Morocco will benefit from the integration of capital and management expertise from the private operator, which should produce cost-reducing efficiency in this public-private partnership." He added, "Competition and transparency helped the government secure a highly-competitive tariff for the end-user of the project - and indeed local farmers have told the ministry that they are highly satisfied with the result."Bernard Sheahan, IFC director for Advisory Services, added that "A high level of competition and transparency has been maintained throughout the process, with a positive outcome for the government and the farmers. The Moroccan authorities should be praised for their strong commitment to making this project succeed."

From World Bank Group, DC, 20 August 2004


Treasury Launches Manual for Public/Private Partnership

The National Treasury has raised the bar in implementing the country's infrastructure projects by launching a comprehensive Manual and Standardised Provisions under which Public Private Partnership (PPP) deals will be structured. The PPP Manual provides practical steps to undergo when institutions undertake a partnership project and aims to empower institutions in the country's infrastructure improvements and service delivery. The Standardised PPP Provisions are extracted from the world's best practices combined and adapted to suit the South African priorities, and create certainty about the terms under which related deals will be structured to achieve better implementation.

Launching the Manual and Standardised PPP Provisions in Johannesburg yesterday, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said the Manual was the first in the world to take stakeholders step-by-step through the project cycle. "There really is no longer any excuse for public sector managers who dilly-dally in implementing their mandates, and no reason for the private sector to doubt government's commitment to this delivery path," he said. "That is what PPP projects are about. The public gets better, more cost-effective services; the private sector gets new business opportunities. Both are in the interests of the nation. Doubtless, it is a fine balance to strike in each deal," he said. Mr Manuel however warned stakeholders that the country was in its infancy in PPP projects and capacity and progress should be measured with honesty. He added that trust was another important factor in building partnerships between government and private sector, citizens and service providers. "But even when every lawyer around the table has exhausted his supply of sub-clauses and annexures, there is still a residual space, that is unknown, and that relies on good faith and solidarity. Trust is the bedrock of partnership," said Mr Manuel.

The release of the PPP Manual and Standardised PPP Provisions follows after the release of the code of Good Practice for BEE. The code provides for a balanced scorecard with indicative targets and weightings for each element of the private party's equity structure, management, sub-contracting and local socio-economic impact. It also guides institutions on how to make appropriate decisions about BEE targets during feasibility and procurement phases. In the PPPs concluded to date, black equity has been successfully achieved at between 25 and 40 percent of the private parties' shareholding and sub-contracting in deals that have gone to a similar percentage of black enterprises. SMEs have also benefited people at a local level, and black management control was acquired and extended in all the projects.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Richard Mantu of BuaNews, Pretoria, 24 August 2004



Cosatu and Government Make Headway on Privatisation

Zwelinzima Vavi, the Cosatu secretary-general, says the labour federation and the government are beginning to agree on issues of privatisation. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) leadership is currently engaged in high-level meetings with cabinet ministers and the ANC's parliamentary caucus. The leadership has already met with the ministers of labour, trade and industry and public enterprises. Vavi says agreements are beginning to emerge in areas of policy. "The one thing that is certain, is that we in the alliance have broad framework policies on what ought to be done to create work and fight poverty but parliamentarians are often stuck with the reality that the legislation they pass must be well researched and provide the detail and it is in that detail that we seeking to ensure that the voice of the worker is heard in Parliament." Vavi says there is no doubt that government investment has declined over the years and parastatals have an important role to play in raising the country's economic growth. "When we're talking about more and more, there is a convergence that the issue of restructuring is at centre stage, and I think that is the direction the minister (Alec Erwin) has been given by the president. That of using the public enterprise to deepen the level of investment on the economy by the parastatals and that is something we want to achieve."

From SABC News, South Africa, 26 August 2004


Privatisation: FG Urged to Drop Core Investor Policy

As the privatisation programme enters its third phase the federal government has been urged to jettison the policy of reserving majority shares of companies to core investors as such policy was inimical to justice and fairness. This was among the resolutions adopted at the South-east Consultative/Enlightenment Forum on privatisation with a call for the "discriminatory" core investor policy to be replaced with a policy of equal opportunity for all. According to the participants at the forum which ended at Enugu at the weekend, the core investor policy "strategically excludes Ndi Igbo by manipulative design and implementation." "The on-going privatisation programme should be anchored on equity, fairness and justice," the communique said. It further stated that the "federal government must provide the enabling environment with equal opportunity such as security, accessibility of funds to all people of Nigeria irrespective of tribe and geo-political zone to encourage and motivcate them to participate and support the privatisation programme." Adducing reasons for the low participation of Igbo in the privatisation programme, the forum traced it to perceived historical injustices meted out to Ndi Igbo by past Nigerian governments. The forum cited the then Federal Government policy of going every Igbo person 20 pounds sterling or N40 immediately after the civil war. With this historical injustice yet to be redressed, Igbo, according to the forum, have come to equate the present government's privatisation programme with the indigenisation policy of the early 70s in which there was an official policy to exclude them." "The Federal Government needs to redress the long injustice perpetrated against Ndi Igbo by past administrations to assuage their fears in the privatisation programme and give them a sense of national belonging in Nigeria, where they have invested heavily more than any zone," the forum advised. The forum urged the South East states to emulate their counterparts in the far north by buying shares of privatised companies and holding them in trust for the people, adding that in so doing the people of the Igbo would be encouraged to participate more actively in the privatisation programme.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, by Emmanuel Ugwu of This Day, lagos, 30 August 2004



Economists Advocate Transparency, Caution On Privatisation

Former World Bank Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz warned on Monday of the perils of development without openness, transparency and accountability. He and other participants in a symposium on "Democracy, Development and the Case for the Developmental State" in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, also argued against blanket rivatisations. Developing countries need to respect human rights, have a diverse media and strong political opposition groups, Stiglitz told the senior politicians, business leaders and aid officials attending the symposium, which was organised by an Ethiopian think tank, the Inter-Africa Group. "You can get political systems that ossify and become less than dynamic and competition is one of those forces that releases dynamic leaders," added Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001. He also urged greater public access to information: lack of information, he said, stifled growth and led to distorted economic markets that exacerbate poverty. He said development should not just about an increase in GDP for poor nations. Rather, he said, it should be "sustainable, equitable and democratic". Stiglitz and fellow economist Professor Robert Wade also argued that privatisation did not necessarily reap economic benefits, and advocated state involvement in the economy. Both urged caution in the liberalisation of capital markets - which remain under strict state control in Ethiopia - and in the privatisation of the telecommunications sector.

Several Western nations have urged Ethiopia to open up the telecoms and banking sectors to foreign investors. However, the two economists cited the example of Korea, whose telecoms industry remained under government control and, they said, competed effectively against multinationals. On the other hand, fast, large-scale privatisation in the former Soviet Union had had disastrous results and left millions of people worse off, the economists said. They called on developing countries to develop and help protect their domestic markets, even if it meant falling foul of World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. They also stressed that price controls and government regulation could reap rewards and should not be demonised. The conference came as Prime Minister Meles Zenawi stressed the importance of attracting foreign investment to Ethiopia. Meles has called back all diplomatic missions to Ethiopia to emphasize the importance of attracting foreign direct investment and encouraging trade. Foreign direct investment (FDI)in Ethiopia stands at about US $75 million, one of the lowest in Africa, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. However, the potential for investment is enormous, the UN's Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) argued in a country investment report released this year. It cited the country's corruption-free environment, an enormous and largely untapped domestic market of 70 million people and what it described as a near perfect climate.

From AllAfrica.com, Africa, from UN Integrated Regional Information Networks, 31 August 2004

 

 

 

 

Jordan Privatization Program Beneficial

Amman - Jordan's privatization program has led to 12,000 new jobs, the Executive Committee for Privatization said in a report Tuesday. The committee said revenues secured from 60 operations of totaled $1.63 billion in addition to $152 million from selling government's shares in 50 companies affiliated with the Jordanian Investment Institution. The report said the revenues from privatization helped boost Jordan's foreign currency reserves which increased from $691 million in 1996 to $5 billion now. It said the returns of privatization, which were calculated at the end of June at $1.2 billion, also helped reduce the public debt. Jordan began its privatization program in 1996 with the government selling most of its shares in key companies, such as telecommunications, transport and cement.

From Washington Times, DC, 10 August 2004

 

 

 

The Organization of American States, ebrary and E-libro Join Forces to Facilitate Online Education and Information Sharing Throughout the Americas

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - In an ongoing effort to provide people in the Western Hemisphere with better ways to access and share information, knowledge and ideas, the Organization of American States (OAS) has partnered with ebrary, a leading provider of information distribution and retrieval services whose core business is licensing online book databases and research technology to educational institutions, and E-libro, ebrary's partner in Latin America and Spain. The OAS is the region's premier forum for multilateral dialogue and concerted action whose mission includes defending democracy, protecting human rights, fostering peace and security, and expanding trade. It serves 35 member states throughout North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

Under terms of the agreement, the OAS - through its development branch, the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD) - will work with ebrary and E-libro on a number of projects including the Educational Portal of the Americas, a website developed to promote high-quality, distance learning and training opportunities to traditionally underserved populations, rural areas and indigenous communities, and the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Americas, a virtual campus for continuing education and professional training. The OAS will leverage content databases aggregated by ebrary and E-libro, which include thousands of full-text books, maps, reports and other documents in Spanish and English from over 180 leading publishers as well as the ebrary platform, which provides a powerful, dynamic research environment that supports all four of the OAS official languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese and French. Among other benefits, the ebrary platform features ebrary InfoTools™ - advanced research capabilities that instantly link researchers to additional information such as definitions, translations, maps, and other online resources by selecting words. It also provides personal bookshelves that save highlights, annotations and bookmarks and full-text search within and across documents.

"ebrary and E-libro will add significant value to our cause, not only by providing valuable content aggregated from the world's leading publishers along with cutting-edge research technology, but also through their personal commitment to working with the IACD to develop programs and products that meet our members' specific needs," said Ambassador Alfonso Quinonez, Acting Director General of the IACD. "We look forward to building upon our relationship with ebrary and E-libro."
"It is very fulfilling working with such an important organization as the OAS, which continues to bring together the countries of the Western Hemisphere, strengthening cooperation and advancing common interest," said Christopher Warnock, CEO of ebrary. "With our evolving technology and growing databases of authoritative content, we hope to help make a difference to the OAS and the people it serves."

About the IACD
The OAS established the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD) at the beginning of 2000 to promote new and more effective forms of cooperation and to enhance partnerships with the private sector and civil society. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the IACD's mission is to tap the considerable capabilities of the OAS member and observer states and forge public-sector partnerships to help the people of the Americas overcome poverty, benefit from the digital revolution and advance their economic and social development. The IACD relies upon several instruments to help expand its technical cooperation and training programs, including: a special multilateral fund that delivers nearly $10 million annually in grant funding; an extensive scholarships and training program that awards between $8-10 million in fellowships each year, and a private-sector arm - the Trust for the Americas - a 501c3 created to facilitate private sector participation in OAS development programs. In addition the IACD strives to promote the formation of human resources through the use of new information technologies, including the Educational Portal of the Americas and its services.

About ebrary
ebrary is a leading provider of information distribution and retrieval services. The company has developed a powerful system that cost-effectively and efficiently creates highly interactive, online content databases, from which it produces numerous market-specific applications. ebrary was named to the 2003 eContent 100 list of leading companies in the digital content industry. ebrary licenses its unique database technology to organizations that seek to reduce costs, increase revenues and improve efficiency by securely distributing their own content over the Internet. ebrary also uses its own technology to create databases containing content from leading publishers, which it then licenses to libraries and other institutions worldwide. ebrary currently offers over 50,000 full-text books, sheet music titles, maps, reports and other authoritative documents from more than 180 leading academic, trade and professional publishers. The company also operates a consumer-facing site - ebrary Discover - designed for individuals that do not have access to its database collections through their library. Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Palo Alto, CA with offices in New York, ebrary is privately held and funded by Random House Ventures LLC, Pearson plc and The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About E-libro
E-libro Corporation was founded in 1998. It is also privately held, and is headquartered in Miami, with offices in Spain, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. E-libro is ebrary's partner for Latin America and Spain, and E-livro is ebrary's partner for Portugal, Brazil, and the other Portuguese speaking countries. For both languages these companies act also as publishers and have consistently been signing agreements with leading publishers to increase the content of these collections. In order to cover the vast territories E-libro and E-livro have selected specific distributors in each country to be able to assist as quickly and with the highest quality possible to our customers.

From Market Wire (press release), 20 August 2004