ISSUE 81
April 2006
 
 
   
    Ethiopia: College Networked to African Higher Learning Institutions
   
    India: PM to Inaugurate 'Civil Service Day' Tomorrow
New Zeeland: New Caledonia to Face One-day Public Servants' Strike
   
    Ireland: The Decentralisation 'Shambles'
UK: Civil Service 'Politicesed' Claims
Moldova: Moldovan President Top Popular Politician, Says Opinion Poll
   
    Columbia: Young Picassos Paint for Public Policy
USA: Remarks by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
 
   
    Nigeria:Let's Have Fresh Ideas in Governance, Adegbuyi Urges Obasanjo
Ethiopia: Ministers Discuss Draft Charter on Governance in Africa
   
   

India: Microsoft (India) Partners UP government for E-governance
New Zealand: Not Enough Women in Top Jobs
Bangladesh: Corporate Governance Must to Attract Foreign Investors
India: Ensuring Human Rights a Way for Good Governance: JKHRC
China: Grassroots Democracy Shot Forth by Village Photographers
Japan: Youths Get a Say in Governance with Mock Mayoral Vote
CSC Gets $500,000 Grant for E-governance Project

   
    United Arad Emirates:Common Threads Link Deliberations on the Second Day of the 5th MENA Development Forum
   
   

Jamaica: The Impact of Good Governance

   
    Unease Over How the Net Is Run
 
   
    Uganda: Fighting Corruption a National Challenge
Nigeria: As Rivers State Civil Service Goes Electronic
   
   

Kazahkhstan-Uzbekistan: Travellers Report Border Corruption
Armenia: Anti-corruption Conference Co-organized by OSCE Begins in Armenia
India: WB Postpones Funding Indian Health Programon Corruption Claims
Brunei: Royal Call To End Corruption
Malaysia: Civil Service: Minds Have Been Conditioned

   
   

Haiti: Interim Haitian Leader to Probe Corruption
Jamaica: Can Simpson Miller Eliminate Corruption?

USA: Ethics Reform: Not Quite Getting There

   
    Wolfowitz Unveils Anti-Corruption Strategy
 
   
    India: E-governance Project on Course in Delhi
   
    Italy: Italy to Investigate RFID Potential
Ireland: Ireland Should Look to M-government: Report
Ireland and UK Make E-conveyancing Moves
UK: UK Council Sites Gain Popularity
   
    Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia Forges Ahead with E-government Rollout
Oman: eOman Launched
Qatar: Qatar Pioneer in E-government
   
    Relationships the Key to Future Success
E-Gov Knowledge Management Conference 2006
 
   
    Malawi: Kutengule Posted to OPC
   
    India: Chidambaram for Revamp of Public Delivery Systems
   
    Italy: Politics:Padoa Schioppa Plausible Finance Candidate
Romania: Ministry to Spend 220m Euros on Helicopters
Romania: Stable Taxation System Is Important, FinMin States
Italy: Public Finance: Tuscan Administration Rationalisation Plans
Czech Republic: Public Finance Gap to Grow to 3.6 Percent of GDP This Year
 
   
    India: Deora Favours Public-private Partnership for Energy Security
Pakistan: Telecom Moot on Impact of Low Average Revenue Held
India: Private Sector Partners Take Control of Airports
India: Public-Private Partnership Needed for Infrastructure Projects
   
    Turkey: TUSIAD Chairman: Prize of the Corporate Governance Is the Productive Utilization of the Resources
Greece: Greece's Postal Savings Bank Stake Privatization Scheduled for May Reports
 

College Networked to African Higher Learning Institutions

The Ethiopian Civil Service College is reportedly networked to African higher learning institutions in a bid to modernize its system and make it efficient. College President, Dr. Haile-Michael Abera said that the networking was necessitated to establish communication with the state-of-the art communication technologies with a view to transforming the civil service sector. Accordingly, the college has established network with colleges in Nigeria, Ghana and Tanzania to gain experiences. Dr. Haile-Michael said education through video conference and internet has been underway for quite sometime now, and sharing of expertise knowledge by being physically present here is currently being undertaken. Similarly, the college has been working hard to establish relations with institutions in Asia and Europe. The college has good working relations with civil service colleges in Amsterdam and Rotterdam of the Netherlands. Lecturers from Nigeria, India, Germany, Britain and USA, constituting eight per cent of the teaching staff, are currently instructing at the college.

From allafrica.com, April 19, 2006

 

PM to Inaugurate 'Civil Service Day' Tomorrow

New Delhi, Apr 20: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will inaugurate a function here tomorrow to mark the 'Civil Service Day'.
All the 61 All India and Central Civil Services, including 15 non-technical and 20 technical services, are collectively observing the Day, an official release today said. A documentary film, produced by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, tracing the evolution of Civil Service will be screened at the function. Minister of State for Personnel and Training Suresh Pachouri, Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister T K A Nair, and other senior officials will participate in the event.

From Newkerala.com, 20 April, 2006

New Caledonia to Face One-day Public Servants' Strike

Various unions in New Caledonia are expected to go on a 24-hour strike tomorrow to show their dissatisfaction with the high cost of living in the territory. The strike will involve public servants and the USOENC union and affect the international airport in Noumea as well as various businesses. The action has forced New Caledonian airline Air Calin to cancel tomorrow's flights between Noumea and Sydney. But Air Calin president and CEO, Jean-Michel Masson, says it will not affect flights between Noumea and Auckland as the airport will operate at a minimum level.

From Radio New Zealand, April 19, 2006

 

The Decentralisation 'Shambles'

Minister for Finance Brian Cowen touched a nerve when he told the Dail last month that Fine Gael and Labour politicians around the country were falling over themselves to attract civil servants as early as possible to their towns. ''When I read local newspapers, I note that deputies and senators from Fine Gael and Labour continually ask when the decentralisation programme will be implemented," Cowen said. ''I then come before this house to be told that I should not go ahead with it at all." The minister was fending off attacks from Fine Gael's Richard Bruton and Labour's Joan Burton on the government's controversial decentralisation scheme.

From The Post.ie, 23 April, 2006

Civil Service 'Politicised' Claims

Claims the civil service has become more 'politicised' will be made in Tynwald on Tuesday. Michael MHK David Cannan will ask Chief Minister Donald Gelling if he considers it appropriate for senior civil servants to promote contentious political policies through the media rather than the minister or a political member of the department. He also wants Mr Gelling's comments on the view the service has become more politicised under his administration.

From Isle of Man Today, 22 April, 2006

Moldovan President Top Popular Politician, Says Opinion Poll

President Vladimir Voronin enjoys the biggest percentage of trustworthiness with the population among all other Moldovan politicians, says an opinion poll the Chisinau-based Public Policy Institute held from March 25 through to April 8, 2006. A total of 22% of those polled named Voronin a politician they trust the most. The poll embraced 1,506 people in twelve towns and villages. Arcadie Barbarosie, the director of Public Policy Institute said national parliament speaker Marian Lupu occupied with second position with 5% and Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev had the third ranking. Other two most trustworthy politicians are former Chisinau mayor Serafim Urecheanu and the leader of the oppositionist Popular Christian Democratic Party, Iurie Rosca, who have 2% and 1% respectively.

More than 30% respondents said, however, they do not trust any politician. Among the political parties, 17.9% of the people polled gave preference to the ruling Communist Party. Another 2% named the Social Democratic Party, while Moldova Noastre Allience and Popular Christian Democratic Party shared the third place. In the meantime, 48.3% of those polled said a definitive 'no' to a question on whether or not there this country at all has a party that would represent their interests. Barbarosie said a total of 34.4% of all Moldovan voters would vote for the Communist Party, were the election to be held this Sunday. The Popular Christian Democratic Party would be second with 3.9%, Moldova Noastre Alliance, third with 3.2%, and the Social Democratic Party, fourth with 3%.

From ITAR-TASS.ru, April 21, 2006

 

Young Picassos Paint for Public Policy

Columbia - While most artists wait years to see their work displayed in a museum, a Columbia fifth-grader is one of nearly 100 students to have his work shown at the Columbia Museum of Art. The display is part of the "Picasso Project" Gala. It's a fundraiser benefiting Voices for South Carolina's Children. Each of the art pieces will be auctioned off tonight and the money will be used to shape public policy for the state's youth. "We do public awareness campaigns about immunizing your child, the importance of oral health, we're beginning another one on safe-sleeping, so by them helping us and providing overhead we can continue our work," said Sue Oliver, Executive Director of Voices.

Heathwood Hall fifth-grader Rob Dozier was one of the top-twelve artists in the exhibit. He says he's honored his artwork could benefit Voices for South Carolina's Children. "My art teacher asked me if I'd enter it in the Picasso Project and I said 'Well, ok, what are the chances I'm gonna be the one who wins?' So I entered it in and I ended up winning," he explained. Dozier says, though, when the auction ends it's Voices for South Carolina's Children that will be the biggest winner.

From wltx.com, April 22, 2006

Remarks by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke

At the Greenlining Institute's Thirteenth Annual Economic Development Summit, Los Angeles, California (via satellite)- /noticias.info/ By the Numbers: Data and Measurement in Community Economic Development (http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=169168&src=0)

I would like to thank Greenlining for the opportunity to participate in today's conference. In my time at the Federal Reserve, I have had a number of opportunities to meet with community economic development leaders to discuss issues of mutual concern and learn about the valuable role that community development organizations play in economically distressed areas across the country. I have been particularly impressed, and heartened, by the increasingly high degree of professionalism in the field. In this area, as in social policy generally, good intentions are not enough. Successful community development requires knowledge - knowledge about the particular community in question and about what has worked in similar communities in the past - and community development organizations are working assiduously and with sophisticated tools to help develop that knowledge.

From noticias.info, April 21, 2006

 
 

Let's Have Fresh Ideas in Governance, Adegbuyi Urges Obasanjo

Pronaco chieftain and Coordinator of Good Will Alliance, Mr Bisi Adegbuyi has called on President Olusegun Obasanjo to allow for fresh hands at the topmost level of governance in the country, just as he faulted the construction of the Ijebu-Ode Stadium. He said it has no bearing on the level of poverty of the people. Commenting on the alleged third term bid of Obasanjo at Ijebu-Ode at the Senatorial meeting of the Alliance for Democracy (AD), Adegbuyi said it was a matter for deep regret that Obasanjo was still desperately committed to pursuing the agenda. He, however advised that the President should begin the process of preparing his hand over notes.

"Silence no longer golden, Mr. President should be direct, unequivocal in his position as regards third term. But whether he likes it or not, it has got just few months in office. He should begin to prepare his handover notes. You cannot be successful in office without having a successor," he said. At a meeting attended by the former governor of the state, Chief Olusegun Osoba and Commissioners for Works and Finance, Prince Segun Adesegun and Evangelist Samuel Durojaiye as well as an Alliance for Democracy (AD) Governorship Aspirant, Otunba Dipo Dina among others.

Adegbuyi who is a senatorial aspirant in Ogun East Senatorial District advised the PDP government in Ogun to find out the needs of the people and ensure that its programmes had positive impacts on their lives. He said, "You should find out what your people need. Ogun State is predominantly a rural state. Using a blueprint that is meant for an urban state cannot work for the masses of our people living in the rural areas.

From Daily Independent, April 06, 2006

Ministers Discuss Draft Charter on Governance in Africa

Africa`s quest for democracy and good governance is not an externally driven agenda to please outsiders, as cynics would argue, Ethiopia`s Supreme Court President Kemal Bedri said here Thursday. Addressing the opening of an African Union (AU) ministerial conference on the Draft African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance, Kemal described the search for good governance in Africa as an organic process that should be nurtured based the concrete needs of the people. "Indeed, it is a source of satisfaction to note that this exercise is part of our own continuous effort in search of solutions to our own problems," said Kemal who is also chairperson of Ethiopia`s National Electoral Board.

During the two-day meeting, the ministers will review the Lome Declaration adopted by African leaders in July 2000 towards ending the trend of unconstitutional change of government in Africa. AU Political Affairs Commissioner Julie Dolly Joiner told the ministers while the Lome Declaration had withstood the test of time and events, it had not prevented the recurrence of unconstitutional change of governments. She appealed to African parliaments to pass legislation that would enforce the Charter on democracy, elections and good governance once it was adopted. The basic principles and objectives of the Draft Charter are enshrined in the different instruments of the AU, including the Constitutive Act which established the continental body.

From Angola Press, April 07, 2006

 

Microsoft(India) Partners UP Government for E-governance

Microsoft Corporation (India) today entered into a multi-pronged partnership with the Uttar Pradesh government to promote e-governance and improve IT literacy in the state. The strategic areas identified include joint efforts to promote e-governance, IT literacy, increased access to technology in rural areas and affordable PC purchase options, Microsoft Corporation Public Sector Country Head Rohit Kumar said at the inauguration of the project here today. Microsoft would partner with Intel, Sahara and HCL to offer feasible and economic options for PC combinations, he added. Over the three year MoU period, Microsoft aims to reach over 4.5 lakh students and nine thousand teachers in government schools. Also in the pipeline is a MoU with the state government to introduce `Saksham`, a public-private initiative aimed at creating a self-sustaining kiosk model to take technology to the grass root levels.

From MyIris.com, April 01, 2006

Not Enough Women in Top Jobs

Women are still under-represented in leadership positions in New Zealand, according to a new report released today. The New Zealand Census of Women's Participation released today by the Human Rights Commission found just 7.13 per cent of the country's top 100 listed companies had women directors - up 2.9 per cent since the last study, in 2004. The survey also showed: A total of 63 of the top 100 New Zealand companies had no women on their boards (46 women out of 645 directors), compared with the total workforce being 47 per cent women. 32.2 per cent of Members of Parliament are women; 16.9 per cent of University associate professors are women.

Equal Employment Opportunity commissioner Judy McGregor said she "surprised and incredibly disappointed....the results show dismal progress". Although many public bodies had found good female talent, the private sector had not, she told The New Zealand Herald. "I just assumed that in New Zealand we had grasped the idea that greater diversity at governance level helped the bottom line. "There are a lot of senior women who do (want governance positions) and haven't had a look-in. "I'm not hard on it having to be 50-50, but I would ask why is half of New Zealand's potential ignored in terms of governance?"

President of the National Council of Women, Christine Lowe said the gap could be attributed to sexism. "I think some companies have realised that women do make a good contribution to their boards, but others are probably still hung up on their inflexible attitudes that they've had for decades," she told National Radion. "It probably has connection too, to the old boy's network." Chief executive of the Institute of Directors, Nicola Crauford said it was likely shareholders were to blame, not boards, for the lack of women directors. "It's the shareholders probably, who don't really want to take the risk with new directors, rather than the other directors on the board, although I suspect that it's obviously a bit of both."

Business Round Table chief executive Roger Kerr said boards employed the person best suited to the job, regardless of their sex. "Clearly boards and competitive markets these days have every incentive to get the right kind of talent on to them. "My experience is that boards bend over backwards to look for talented women."

From Stuff.co.nz, April 03, 2006

Corporate Governance Must to Attract Foreign Investors

Speakers at a seminar in the city said the lack of corporate governance and ethical business practices is the major impediments to the growth of the booming Bangladesh economy. They said Bangladesh has not succeeded in attracting a significant amount of international investment compared to its Asian neighbours due to the fact that international investors perceive Bangladesh poorly in terms of good corporate governance. Corporate governance and ethical business practices could promote investors' confidence and improve their perception and reliability on business norms, they added. Bangladesh Society for Human Resource Management (BSHRM), a premier body for human resource professionals in the country, organised the seminar on "The role of HR professionals in corporate governance" in the city Saturday.Citibank NA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mamun Rashid inaugurated the seminar.

From The Financial Express, April 03, 2006

Ensuring Human Rights a Way for Good Governance: JKHRC

Ensuring human rights would pave the way for effective governance but its violation would only breed contempt and vengeance in the society, Chairman of Jammu and Kashmir Human Rights Commission said today. "Respecting human rights will establish authority of state and create healthy and peaceful atmosphere which in the long run will pave way for effective governance," Justice Ali Mohammed Mir said inaugurating a debate on human rights here. Noting that violation of human rights breed "contempt, vengeance and create lawlessness", the Commission chairman said, "this (violation of rights) will prevent social and economic justice to the people".

Justice Mir said the basic cause of terrorism were non- performance, corruption and nepotism which alienate common man from the ruler. He said the state is under obligation to uphold the human rights as it was important to defeat terrorism and create effective governance. Inspector General of Police K Rajendra Kumar said that in the post 9/11 torture has increased because of various measures adopted under anti-terrorism laws. Security forces must also ensure that they meet human rights obligation during antio-terrorism operations, he said. The IGP said the state has right to take exceptional measures to ensure public security in emergency but some fundamental rights such as right to life, right to freedom from torture and all forms of cruelty right to freedom of thought and conscience should not be suspended.

From New Kerala, April 05, 2006

Grassroots Democracy Shot Forth by Village Photographers

A dozen villagers with sober earnest faces sitting on stools awaiting the village election to begin: a villager slipping his vote inside the ballot box and another writing on the blackboard to show the number of votes each candidate gets. These are the pictures taken by an ordinary Chinese farmer who had never used a camera before. Wu Jianjun, a villager from Pingtang village, Yongxiu county in East China's Jiangxi province, won the first prize in the Villager Photographers Project, a project supported by the EU-China Training Programme on Village Governance. Along with Wu's works, 20 other pictures sorted out by the organizers from a few thousand photos taken by 100 Chinese villagers from 17 different provinces were displayed at the ongoing exhibition.

"Most of these villager cameramen had never taken a single picture in their life before they received the amateur camera," said Jian Yi, the program's public communications expert. The project put 125 cameras and four films into the hands of 125 villagers from different provinces and inspired them in taking pictures of the election taking place in their village. "These pictures have a unique perspective because people look at their own village affairs in a very special way," said Dr. Jurgen Ritter, team leader of the EU-China Training Program on Village Governance. "This is a fine example of how local villagers are not only the object of photography and how they can participate and play major roles in their own history. This is a vivid presentation of the Chinese saying that people are the masters of their own homes," he said.

"It serves to initiate new ways of approaching a topic which sounds relatively abstract - like village governance." China formally granted farmers the right to directly elect or oust their village heads and members of the village committees with the Organic Law of Village Committees in 1998. "Democracy at a basic level was established two decades ago and the democratic awareness of farmers has been growing ever since," said Wang Jinhua, director of rural affairs for the Ministry of Civil Affairs. In 2005, approximately 300,000 villages in China's 18 provinces had village committee elections. "Management in a democratic way" is listed as one of the prerequisites for building a new socialist countryside in the 11th Five-Year Program (2006-2010) of China.

Premier Wen Jiabao said in his government work report on March 5 that "building a new socialist countryside has to respect the aspiration of the Chinese farmers and enhance democracy at the grassroot level." "The cameras gave these villagers an access to express themselves," said Wu Wenguang, an independent documentary director who is considered as the driving force behind the project. "The villagers usually have no sense of lighting, composition or structure, the pictures are their instinctive expressions," he said. If these villagers are given more channels in which to voice their desires and rural officials handle them with more meticulous care, patience and skills, the problems of widespread protests in the countryside will be tackled since the Chinese farmers are the "most lovable", he acknowledged. "The training program is more or less confined to the classroom but, thanks to these additional visual channels, we can address village governance in a more efficient form," Dr. Jurgen Ritter said. "It opens new horizons."

From China View, April 06, 2006

Youths Get a Say in Governance with Mock Mayoral Vote

A 14-year-old boy voted in front of a railway station on a rainy Sunday in February in a mock mayoral election in Tokyo's Machida city organized by the Junior Chamber of Commerce. The third-year middle school student said he cast his ballot after comparing the candidates' "manifestos." The Machida JCC carried out the voting simultaneously with the mayoral contest held in the city in an effort to arouse interest in municipal affairs among people aged 19 and younger. Munetaka Soai, a 34-year-old social science teacher at Tamagawa Gakuen high school, also cooperated with the JCC by holding a mock poll in his classroom. The moves took place while a decline in Japan's population and aging of society will inevitably lead to rises in taxes and social insurance payments.

About 70 percent of public social-security benefits are for the elderly, while less than 4 percent are targeted at children and households. Critics say conflict between generations could become serious if the current system of lesser burdens and more hospital benefits for elderly people remains untouched. A professor of economic policy in the graduate school at Hosei University, Takao Komine, said fresh ideas are necessary to ease possible confrontations between generations, such as the establishment of electoral districts according to age to allocate Diet seats in proportion to age groups and offering a week's latitude to working voters to cast ballots in elections. Seventeen-year-old Miyuki Enta served as the third "juvenile mayor" of Yuza town in Yamagata Prefecture for six months until the end of last year.

Candidates for mayor, deputy mayor and six town assembly members were picked from middle and high school students in the town of more than 17,000 people. Town office employees collected votes, and turnout among some 1,200 students was 80 percent. The town office entrusted the juvenile mayor with a budget of 500,000 yen. Enta held 13 meetings with the elected students and proposed that the town assembly set up outdoor security lights and coverings against rain at bus stops. She said she had a hard time keeping up with extracurricular activities at school during the short period she served as juvenile mayor. "But in the future I'd like to engage in work that will be useful to people," she added. "Young people are always dissatisfied with adults and society," said Mayor Kiichiro Onodera, 59, who came up with the idea of the juvenile mayor. "And if they are, then I want them to get involved themselves in town building and changing society."

From The Japan Times Online, April 10, 2006

CSC Gets $500,000 Grant for E-governance Project

The Civil Service Commission (CSC) recently received a 500,000 US dollar grant from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for an e-governance project aimed at improving the selection process for civil servants but is more inclined at reducing political favoritism.
The project, funded by the Japan Fund for Information and Communications Technology (JFICT), is expected to ensure a more rational, transparent and cost-efficient decision-making process for the country's civil service system. Malacanang will provide a counterpart fund of 250,000 US dollars for the project's total estimated cost of 750,000 US dollars.

The project has three phases spread out over 16 months. The first entails the development, installation and operation of a common database on personnel information for all incoming and incumbent civil servants. The database will ensure that screening of civil service is done in accordance with policies. It would also help insulate the civil service from political patronage and ensure the selection of the most competent candidates. The second phase is the creation of an Internet portal for third level (Cabinet level) government executives wherein they could use interactive multimedia tools for acquiring and sharing information and transacting business with partner agencies. The third phase is an online learning facility on management concepts.

ADB Senior Financial Management Specialist Emma Yang said the CSC project will rely heavily on ICT as tools for public administration reforms and to improve public service delivery. "The collective strength of this segment of the civil service is a potent force that can be mobilized for large-scale initiatives for civil service reforms," Yang said.

From INQ7 Network, April 12, 2006

 

Unease Over How the Net Is Run

Internet governance issues usually attract the attention of a relatively small number of net users. However, concerns associated with the current system have begun to grow, writes internet law professor Michael Geist. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the US-based body charged with managing the net's domain name system, just wrapped up a week-long meeting in Wellington, New Zealand on Friday, and it now finds itself the target of criticism from some its closest allies. Icann, which then-US President Bill Clinton established in the late 1990s, initially viewed itself as a technical body mandated with ensuring that the net functioned in a stable and secure manner.

While stability and security remain an important objective, today no one seriously questions the fact that internet governance extends far beyond technical concerns. The introduction of new top-level domains is a major issue for domain name registrars, who rightly note that Icann exerts strong regulatory control over the size and scope of the domain name marketplace. It has moved frustratingly slowly in establishing new domain name extensions, with only handful, such as .biz or .info, appearing on the market in recent years.

Online politics - Governments have also taken an increasing interest in Icann, focusing primarily on their own national country-code top-level domains such as .uk for the United Kingdom. The power of Icann, and by extension the US government, to influence these domains has raised serious questions about the intersection between the internet and national sovereignty as governments maintain that they should be final arbiters over their country-code domains. Many governments have also wondered why Icann has been so slow to establish multi-lingual domains that would allow their citizens to register domain names in their native language. While the issue has been a priority for many developing countries, Icann has not moved at net speeds on the issue.

Other Icann policies have attracted the interest of a diverse group of communities. The privacy community has worked with Icann for years without success to establish an appropriate "whois" policy, which addresses the conditions under which the personal information of someone registering a domain name is publicly disclosed. The free speech community has actively called on Icann to examine its policy for resolving domain name disputes, expressing disappointment that the current policy has been used to shut down legitimate criticism websites.

Despite the mounting frustration with Icann, until recently it could count on support from the US government and the administrators for several leading country-code domains. At last year's World Summit on the Information Society in Tunisia, Icann overcame opposition from Europe and the developing world to retain responsibility over the domain name system. Over the past month, however, even Icann's most ardent supporters have begun to express doubts about the organization's lack of transparency and accountability.

Pressure on Icann - Last week, US Congressman Rick Boucher called for a Congressional investigation into Icann and its recent decision to settle litigation with Verisign, which manages the lucrative .com registry. The settlement, which awards Verisign near permanent control over the .com domain, has faced sharp criticism from across the internet governance community. In Canada, the Canadian Internet Registration Authority, Cira, recently published an open letter to Icann calling on it to implement greater accountability, transparency, and fair processes.

Backing up its words with actions, Cira said that until Icann addressed these concerns, it would suspend payment of thousands of dollars in contributions and cease consideration of a new contractual agreement with the organisation. Moreover, Cira added that it would no longer host or sponsor any Icann-related events. The net supervisory body has also come under fire from the Public Interest Registry, PIR, which manages the .org domain. Last week it called on Icann to address concerns over the thriving business of grabbing domain names that have not been re-registered.

PIR noted that many registrants are unaware that their domain names are valuable and that allowing them to lapse may lead to their misuse. It pointed specifically to one instance where a domain name associated with a rape crisis centre was not re-registered and soon after pointed to a pornographic website. Internet governance policies strike at the core of free speech, privacy, and a competitive marketplace. Icann's seeming inability to address these issues in an accountable, transparent, and timely manner has alienated some of its strongest supporters, opening the door to the prospect for major changes to the global internet governance landscape.

From BBC News, April 03, 2006

 

Common Threads Link Deliberations on the Second Day of the 5th MENA Development Forum

The 5th MENA Development Forum launched its second day of deliberations with coverage of diverse aspects of reform, including successes and challenges and offering case studies from across the MENA region and Europe. Moderated by Ms. Chantale Dejou, head of the World Bank's Marseille office, the panelists took part in a session entitled Fostering Reforms: What Works and Does Not Work. A common thread among the reform issues discussed by the panelists is transparency, which is an integral part of any discussion involving reform. Privatization, liberalization of markets, judicial reforms, gender equality, social change and human resources were among the other recurrent themes of the plenary session.

H.E. Zahira Kamal, former Minister of Women's Affairs in Palestine, highlighted the state of women in her country and the extent of their involvement in the economic and political processes. In her position as the first minister of women's affairs in Palestine, the Minister highlighted her reforms, among the most important of which is the creation of gender balance and eradication of inequality, which is a main deterrent in women's entry into the labor market. In his comments, Mr. Georges Zard Abou Jaoude, Chair and General Manager of the Lebanese Canadian Bank mentioned the need to place projects into the hands of qualified actors of change, who look for certain criteria when analyzing a target economy, including security and transparency in the judicial system.

Mr. Abou Jaoude further elaborated on the elements necessary for reform, namely the decentralization of power, the rebuilding of financial markets to promote growth and the development of human resources, placing special emphasis on addressing the Lebanese brain-drain. Mr. Nassib Ghobril, Director of the Economic Studies Department, Byblos Bank, Lebanon, maintains in his address that entry into the WTO necessitates reform in Arab countries. However the reform process in the Arab world is still lagging because of resistance to change. The degree of reform varies between Arab countries depending on political agreement, and the existence of real will for reform, as well as transparency and good governance.

Concerning privatization, Mr. Ghobril mentioned that delays in privatizing the electricity sector in Lebanon caused a loss of $800 million last year and it is expected that the sector will lose $1.2 billion this year. Losses were also incurred in the telecom sector due to delays in privatization. Mr. Mohamad Chabib, General Manager of MTC Group, Lebanon highlighted his company's experience with continuous change which is required for maintaining efficient and competitive services. MTC's profitable expansion is achieved through its strategy of corporate social responsibility, devised to foster development. Mr. Chabib emphasized that reforms must be total, encompassing a formula that includes government willingness, private sector contribution and public acceptance.

In conclusion, Mr. Chabib stated that mobile sector reforms in Lebanon can be achieved by establishing a telecom regulatory agency and ensuring its independence; and by liberalizing the sector to allow free competition. Mr. Nemat Frem, Managing Director of Indevco S.A.L. also emphasized the need for modernization of the judicial system in order for it to be able to support true and broad-ranging reforms in Lebanon.

Stating the necessity of a free economy to achieve reform, Mr. A. Taieb-Ezzrami, President, Club Entrepreneurs et Industriels de la Mitidja, presented Algeria's reform initiatives, setting priority on restoring the business environment which was rocked by political instability. Mr. Taieb-Ezzrami listed some of his country's efforts at keeping pace with the globalization trend such as Algeria's entering into a free trade agreement with the EU, its entry into the WTO as well as reforms in agriculture, industry, labor laws, investment laws and customs.

Mr. Abdeljlil Grefft Alami, Advisor to the Minister of Social Development, Morocco highlighted the experiences of his country where there have been reforms but where poverty and illiteracy rates are still high, necessitating urgent reforms. 'One of the most important factors,' he said, 'behind the failure of reform is due to flawed decisions and splits within regulations and policies.' Mr. Alami said there should be a new framework of policies to repair the weakest areas within the system. Mr. Alami also placed emphasis on the need for training in human resources and acquiring long-term financing.

H.E. Valdis Birkavs, former Deputy Prime Minister of Latvia covered his country's experience in overhauling legislative processes, privatizing government agencies, opening borders, and changing the direction of exports. Mr. Birkavs also pointed out the strides made by the Balkan countries in joining NATO and the EU. Mr. Birkavs said that while Latvia focused on economic reforms, he admitted the need to work on social and educational reforms and described his country's efforts to involve and unite the public through a goal-oriented, enthusiastic vision. In order for reform to succeed, civil society must always question the government, he said.

Mr. Bertin Martins, Regional Economist with the European Commission spoke of the economic aspects of reform saying that financial aid and funding do not generate reform but help in launching the process. Mr. Martins also stressed the need for reforms in keeping pace with on-going developments. The private sector should be given incentives to lead reform, he continued, rather than depending on the public sector for such an endeavor.

Workshops covered the following reform topics for the MENA region: a Palestine case study on institutionalizing and accelerating reforms; considering gender in institutional reforms; citizens, civil society and public sector reform; youth promoting good governance; governance reforms for better city performance; reform for enhancing the business environment, considering gender in institutional reforms, governance reforms for better city performance; capacity and knowledge building for the rule of law, Next-Generation reforms: governance, transparency and integrity initiatives. Side activities included sessions on youth promoting good governance: best practices and models of change (part 2); governance reforms for better city performance; gender meeting; building regional communities of practice; a review of lessons.

From The AME Info, April 09, 2006

 

The Impact of Good Governance

Last Saturday I was at Girls' and Boys' Champs. As usual it was a very exciting event, even though my alma mater did not win but came in at a respectable third place against the predictions. My usual excitement at Champs on this occasion was even greater because of an incident that had nothing to do with the athletics. When our new Prime Minister came into the stadium and was being introduced, the whole stadium broke out in thunderous applause and cried "Portia! Portia!" This was the first time that I had ever seen such enthusiasm at any one time being expressed for a leader of this country.

This greeting confirmed what I have always thought: that the Prime Minister's charisma and appeal is so wide that she stands a great opportunity of uniting the country for greatness. It is important to understand, however, that she will either be very successful or a very dismal failure. Her appeal is such that she cannot be in the middle as expectations from her are very high, and in particular this is coming from ordinary Jamaicans. This is the impact a leader can have on a nation.

At a time when most Jamaicans gave up hope in their own prospects in Jamaica, along comes a leader with the ability to not only inspire hope but move all Jamaicans in a common direction. For a while many, including myself, have been saying that the problem with Jamaica simply comes down to poor leadership. Constitutional reform - The Prime Minister has said the right things. She has indicated that every individual human right must be respected and has challenged both her senior and junior ministers to do what is in the interest of all Jamaicans. She has stated that they should promote policies in the interest of Jamaica and must ensure consultation with Jamaicans. She has hit the nail on the head when it comes to defining the real problem with Jamaica, that of governance.

This was once a very big issue with the current leader of the opposition when he, like the prodigal son, left home (the JLP) and was welcomed back with open arms, armed with his desire for constitutional reform. This seems to have died a natural death and is no longer being bandied about as a mainstay of his policies. This is unfortunate as I believe that it is at the root of all our problems, as we cannot rely on the good fortune of our leaders to govern us but must have controls in place to ensure proper governance.

The table shows what I call the Building Blocks for Prosperity. One starts a building by laying the proper foundation first.
Many have been recently reminded with the Caribbean Cement issue that if the foundation of the house is not solid then it will be brought down at great expense. So in order to get to economic prosperity our foundation must be first and foremost good governance and control on our governors. Good governance will ensure that the persons who elect them are given an efficient justice system, efficient government system and an efficient tax system. Unless we have these in place at the base then we will not be able to see the jobs, productivity and prosperity that we desire for this country. A fixed exchange rate and macroeconomic stability cannot be successfully maintained by policies that force their existence; they can only be achieved when the country has a solid economic base driven by a good governance structure and controls.

This is what we intend to do when we seek to establish audit committees and independent directors within companies. We recognise the importance of this so much in the private sector that we implement controls for governance in our regulations, such as the Companies Act and Jamaica Stock Exchange rules. Why then do we not believe that it is important enough for our country? Is it that we think less of the people as Jamaicans than as shareholders of companies? My own impression is that maybe the persons who are to create the appropriate legislation do not want to have the control placed upon them.

Governance criteria - It is therefore very refreshing that the Prime Minister has recognised the importance of good governance in the progress of the country. A word of caution, however, is that good governance does not necessarily mean that religious persons should be elected to government boards. The intent of such a suggestion may be good but can be dangerous. Selection for government boards must be on the basis of persons with integrity (which may have been the intent of the suggestion) but also persons of great competence. It must not be on the basis of persons who may be genetically or religiously linked.

The important thing though is that the Prime Minister, by making this suggestion, has implicitly recognised the need for integrity and good governance at the level of government boards, in addition to the political representation. I trust that after all this has been said we will now begin to see some action behind the words, as that is what will make the difference and maintain the confidence that has been placed in the Prime Minister.

If she takes the actions that are necessary to ensure proper governance then she will be well supported by all and will place Jamaica on a solid path for success. If there is true commitment to the people of Jamaica, however, I expect that we will soon see changes to our constitutional arrangements to ensure separation of powers. It would be ironic if this was brought to the fore by the PNP after the baton has been dropped on this one by the JLP. At the end of the day, if we are to move forward, then our foundation must be good and solid governance based on separation of powers, otherwise the country will suffer the same fate as the structures put up with Carib Cement.

From The Jamaica Observer, April 07, 2006

 
 

Fighting Corruption a National Challenge

President Yoweri Museveni, meeting the members of his former task force committee from the seven districts of Buganda at his home in Rwakitura on Friday, urged the National Resistance Movement (NRM) leaders to stand firm against corruption. If not tackled, the President observed, corruption would eat up the NRM and threaten its very survival. All the political leaders at all levels must take President Museveni's call seriously. Corruption remains widespread at all levels and poses a big danger to the country. It undermines growth of the national economy because it imposes unnecessary financial costs to investors. Investors have to give bribes to get the necessary services. Thus corruption is a disincentive to investment. It impedes the implementation of Government's programmes and delivery of services.

Government has taken a number of measures to deal with corruption. By appointing the various Commissions of Inquiry, Government has demonstrated its commitment to tackle the problem. Currently, a commission is investigating the mismanagement of funds from the Global Fund on AIDS, TB and Malaria. It has quizzed a number of people including all the Health Ministry ministers who were responsible for managing the funds. It is hoped the commission will get at the root of the problem in the Global Fund so that decisive action is taken.

Nonetheless, corruption still poses a national challenge. Political leaders at all levels must put the fight against corruption at the top of their agenda. The general public must be drafted into the campaign. Every person should take it as a national duty to expose corruption. Prosecuting corruption suspects requires hard evidence. State agencies charged with fighting corruption should be given adequate resources and tools to do their work. Government should also promptly act on the reports of the anti-corruption institutions such as the Inspectorate of Government.

From The New Vision, April 03, 2006

As Rivers State Civil Service Goes Electronic

There is one thing stronger than all the crimes in the world and that is an idea -whose time has come." These are the words of Victor Hugo, the great 19th century French romantic writer and poet. Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari, the Head of Service, Rivers State Civil Service, must have felt the rhythm of Victor Hugo's words beating in his chest, when he stepped out of the vast reception hall of the Podium Block to behold the vast congregation of civil servants, all gathered with expectant patience in the open pavilion of the Rivers State Secretariat Complex, on Thursday, March 30, 2006.

Indeed, the atmosphere was sizzling with pomp as the workers of Rivers State, adorned in the simplicity of their ceremonial finery, turned out in their numbers to warmly receive their Golden Governor of Rivers State, Dr. Peter Odili and witness the commissioning of the brand new, high-tech, post-modern Photo Electronic Fingerprint Identification System (PEFIS).

The event was historic on two very important levels. For one, this was arguably, the first time, since taking his oath of office in 1999 that the Golden Governor of Rivers State, Sir, Dr. Odili, had actually come to the vineyard of the Rivers State Civil Service to meet and interact with the civil servants of Rivers State. So this was indeed an occasion to savour for both the Governor and the civil servants. Secondly, this was the first time a product of the magnitude and operational importance of the system was to be commissioned in any state in the federation, as a tool of administrative and personnel efficiency.

The monumental import of this extra-ordinary occasion was hinged on Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari. Indeed the Head of Service was to capture the event in perfect perspective in his keynote address by stating categorically that the commissioning of the first-ever Photo Electronic Fingerprint Identification System (PEFIS) represented a significant milestone in the annals of the Rivers State Civil Service.

According to the Head of Service, the Rivers State Government had, over the years committed huge financial resources into several strategies to check the ghost worker syndrome and the identification of pensioners without success. The failure of the strategies prompted the search for alternative methods to halt the trend and complement the administrative policy of transparency in governance, which had been the hallmark of Governor Peter Odili' s administration.

The search led the pragmatic team of Mr Edwin Willie Bomari all over the place until their ship berthed at the shores of KATCO Limited and the ultimate discovery of PEFIS. The successful commissioning of the Staff Electronic Identification System of March 30th, 2006 was the crowning moment of several long months of hardwork and tireless resolve.

Essentially, the programme is structured to function with the database of the civil service. The State Government has a central database that has stored all the important data on the civil servants. Some of the data contained in the central database are now repeated (or copied) and stored in the ordinary looking Bill Cards.

The cards have a large memory capacity of 4kilo Bytes with memory chip. The Bill card serves all the functions of a regular ID Card PLUS the ability to provide FULL proof identification of the owner. The unique feature of the Bill card is that it has the owner's fingerprint embedded in its memory. The embedded fingerprint is readable, using Contact Less Reader. Since the fingerprint is peculiar to the individual, the Bill card therefore cannot be faked or transferred.

In the event of a verification exercise, the Bill card bearer presents his card, which is read through the Contact Less Reader and as the bearer simultaneously places his registered finger on the scanner, his identity is revealed and at once, his passport photograph and the input data of the owner are displayed on the screen. If the Bill card bearer turns out to be an impersonator, that is, someone who accidentally stumbled on the card or someone who intends to use the card for sharp or dubious intents, then the system will not recognise his fingerprint and no identification will be made.

In a case where the individual has forgotten his Bill card and his identity needs to be confirmed, all he does is place his preferred finger on the scanner. If he has been previously registered as a bonafide civil servant or pensioner, his passport photograph and personal data will appear on the computer or Laptop screen and he will be automatically cleared to receive his payments.

Now that the Photo Electronic Fingerprint Identification System is on ground, the efficiency of identifying authentic individuals either as staff or pensioner will be improved to near faultless levels, as long as the individual has his registered finger intact. To further enhance the attraction of this particular programme, two fingerprints, the right and left index fingers, have been programmed for this PEFIS exercise.

But by far the greatest asset of PEFIS is the fact that the technology so deployed is a customized version of the Human Resources Manager, a product that is specially installed only for Private Sector Organization. This is the first time PEFIS has gone public. With the establishment of the system, a database of civil servants and pensioners has thus been created in the Office of the Head of Service and the foundation problem of ghost workers in the civil service has ostensibly met its waterloo.

Indeed, to further strengthen its efficiency and capacity utilization, and also to establish the product as a worthy legacy to posterity in the service, a well-structured training programme for civil servants, to be conducted by experts from KATCO, on the operational modalities and its various devices, has been instituted. In addition, the Directors of Finance and Administration of each Ministry in collaboration with the Office of the Head of Service, will work closely to ensure that only genuine workers are accredited for identification purposes and issued with personal identity cards containing all the details of service records. The bonus offering the system is that in the long run, it will be fully deployed to check late coming and absenteeism; a matter which the civil servants themselves would surely feel hard done by, when it is fully implemented.

The verve, the gusto, the pragmatic dynamism, the visionary administrative acumen and indeed the warmth and accommodation of the principled but charismatic personality of the Head of Service, who has been nicknamed "Mr. Civil Service" have all endeared him to his staff and injected a new spirit of pro-active responsibility in the civil service. His interactive interface and hand-on approach to rejuvenation of the Rivers State Civil Service has inspired and motivated a freshly invigorating work ethic and attitude.

As the Head of Service of a large and vibrant workforce, he has exhibited a richly veined artery of post-modern articulation, which defines the civil service as the nexus of administrative centrality and locates it firmly within the matrix of the collective governance of Rivers State. It is to his greater credit that the industrial harmony which Rivers State enjoys, has been largely due to the balancing stability which he has engineered, to complement the worker-friendly disposition of Governor Peter Odili, all of which has nullified the counter productive culture of agitation and installed in its place, the symbiotic co-relation of dialogue, dedication and commitment by the workforce and the government.

It is little wonder therefore that The News Magazine, one of Nigeria's most critical and articulate publications, rated Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari as one of the best three outstanding Heads of Service in the Federation (with those of Abia and Plateau states. According to The News magazine, "...only a few of them (H.O.S) have performed remarkably well. Beyond every doubt, their contributions to the development of their various states will remain a testimony for generations yet unborn. These men (Edwin Willie Bomari and Company), created policy initiatives that altered the civil service from mere "bureaucratic signpost, to administrative marks of excellence". The Master of Ceremony of the occasion, Mr. Paulinus Nsirim aptly stated that "A Golden Governor deserves a Golden Head of Service".

Dr. Peter Odili, Governor of Rivers State has indeed been pivotal in the successful accomplishment of the system. His unflinching faith and confidence in the ability of Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari and his team to uncover a workable solution to the ghost worker syndrome, even when it appeared that technological advancement may have rendered it absolute, was the catalyst needed to galvanise the civil service team to the glorious commissioning of the Staff Electronic Identification System.

In his own right, Governor Odili has actually elevated himself to the pantheon of leaders whose administrative legacies will justify his reign and transcend it into posterity. Governor Peter Odili has achieved definitive distinctions in virtually every sector of existentialism. To students, he is a Pragmatic Educationist. To workers, he is a Welfarist Comrade. To Engineers, he is a Pace setter. To Doctors, he is a Champion of good health. To Journalists, he is a Social Engineer. To Lawyers, he is the Peoples Advocate. To Businessmen, he is simply Mr. Restoration. To Philosophers, he is the Senior Achiever of Nigeria (SAN). To Social Scientists, he is a Statesman. To Politicians, he is the Peoples Governor and a detribalized Bridge Builder. To the Masses, he is a Populist leader and a man of the people. But beyond all these, Dr. Peter Odili had distinguished himself as a man of character.

Arthur Friedman once said that, Men of genius are admired. Men of wealth are envied. Men of power are feared. But only men of character are trusted. With the commissioning of PEFIS, Dr. Peter Odili has shown unequivocally that he is a leader who can be trusted. His admonition to the civil servants of Rivers State speaks volumes of his desire to resuscitate the civil service into a responsible and relevant co-partner in the collective administration of Rivers State. In his words, the civil service is the engine room of government and any successes to be achieved in the cause of administration will be accomplished if the civil servants work hard, eschew graft and absenteeism and reconnect the civil service to the human chain in a strong bond that will guarantee the future of Rivers State and ensure a better tomorrow for Rivers people.

According to Governor Odili, the Staff Electronic Identification System must be seen as a challenge to the civil servants not only to redefine their work ethic but also inspire in the workers, a new culture of responsibility especially in the appreciation and maintenance of government assets within their areas of service.

The Governor decried the unforeseen manipulations and legal rigmarole which had greatly impeded work on the Secretariat Complex and assured that with all the attendant obstacles now successfully removed, the successful completion of the renovation work will be achieved by the end of 2006 and thus redeem his dream of giving Rivers State a befitting Civil Service Secretariat to complement the ultramodern, architecturally breath-taking new Rivers State Government House.

The occasion was also an auspicious opportunity for Governor Peter Odili, to redeem another promise he had earlier made to the workers of Rivers State. Comrade Prince Nzidee, the chairman, National Council of States of the Civil Service Union had stirred the cauldron of patriotism of the civil servants in a fiery and dramatically eloquent solidarity message to Governor Peter Odili. In his moving locutions, Senior Comrade Nzidee had invoked the heady exciting sequences of civil service agitation and stubborn resistance, to previous leaderships, contrasting it sharply with the peaceful warmth which characterised the reception given to the Golden Governor.

To further impress on the fact that the Rivers State civil servants were appreciative of all the generosity and prompt resolution of all divisive matters that may have hampered the cordial relationship between the workers and the government. Comrade Nzidee and his comrades in solidarity, staged a heart-warming display of songs and dance including the Civil Service Anthem, in their special costume, in honour of Governor Peter Odili, waving their white handkerchiefs in a symbolic gesture to signify peace and acceptance and to fully drive the point home that according to Comrade Nzidee, "The Eagle has finally landed at the Secretariat". At the end of the festive interlude, Comrade Nzidee seized the opportunity to recall an earlier promise by the Governor to give the civil servants a N10, 000.00 Naira bonus, to the great cheer of the workers.

Governor Odili, in line with his pedigree as an action leader who stands by his words, responded with his usual aplomb by endorsing the immediate release of the Christmas bonus to the workers and apparently thrilled by the warm and wonderful reception of the workers to his visit, promised them another N10,000.00 each, to be released to the workers the following week, to loud ovations by the workers. At the commissioning proper, Governor Odili was briefed on the operational procedure of the devices and ceremonially issued with the first sample of the Photo Electronic Fingerprint Staff Identification Systems (PEFIS) identity card.

The tremendous success achieved with the commissioning of the system is attributable to the dynamism, foresight and visionary motivation of the Rivers State Civil Service team, ably headed by Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari. The tenacity, unshakable drive and ultimate conviction that a solution will be found for the seemingly intractable problem of ghost workers in the civil service, fully underscores the reverberating statement by Theodore Roosevelt, arguably the greatest president ever to rule the United States of America, when he said that: "Far and away, the best prize that life offers, is the chance to work hard at something worth doing".

The Staff Electronic Identification System is indeed a project not only worth doing but indeed one with great potential. Everything in life, according to Myles Munroe in his book "Releasing your Potential", was created with potential and possesses the potential principle. "In every seed, there is a tree; in every bird a flock; in every fish, a school; in every cow, a herd; in every boy, a man; in every girl, a woman, in every nation, a generation. The problems of our world go unsolved because potentials remain buried".

The potentials of PEFIS are numerous, especially as an operational tool to check and redefine the ethical and functional character of the civil service. Indeed, the elation and sense of accomplishment, which engulfed the second floor of the Podium Block, where the Head of Service and his team of quiet achievers are quartered, could not be subdued. Mr. Innocent Oba, himself a system analyst and software designer could not disguise his joy at the commissioning. "This is a dream come true" he enthused. "I must give maximum kudos to Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari, the Head of Service, whose enthusiasm and absolute belief in this project were the driving force for today's successful commissioning." He continued, "KATCO gave a demonstration of the idea of the PEFIS programme and we suddenly discovered that the old ways of staff auditing, which was prone to irregular signatures and photographs fading over time, as a system to monitor staff identification, was now out of date".

Mr. Edwin Willie Bomari, could not hide the smile of satisfaction that lit up his eyes and played at the edges of his mouth, as he hurried back to his office to, of-course, receive the congratulatory accolades for a job well done and then knuckle down to the reality of implementation and actualisation which is now required for the success of PEFIS. But like the germane pragmatist he has always been, he was his practical self as usual, preferring to be philosophical about the successful commissioning of PEFIS. Says he, "I feel gratified that this has happened. The problem of ghost workers and staff identification had been an intractable situation which appeared to defy solution. We met KATCO and discovered that this programme, PEFIS is being used in big corporate companies in the private sector. So we decided to bring them here" (and the rest, as they say, is history).

In the final analysis, it has to be said that kudos must be given to all those who believed in this project, especially Governor Peter Odili, whose confidence in the leadership of the civil service was the defining inspiration for the success of the project. Special mention must be made of the KA-TCO team led by Engineer Ikem Osanakpo and the award winning technical partner and parent company, Korea Aprokgang Technology Development Corporation, which has been in the business of providing powerful security solutions and WebService products using biometrics technology for over 28 years. They all came together in a pragmatic synergy to bring the Photo Electronic Fingerprint Identification System (PEFIS), the first of its kind ever to be launched anywhere in Nigerian public service, to Rivers State and the Rivers State Civil Service.

From The Tide News, April 05, 2006

 

Travellers Report Border Corruption

"Frontier guards and customs officials consider people like us as sub-humans. They have just pushed and insulted me. They openly rob us," Guli Opa, a 45-year- old Uzbek crossing the border for a funeral, told IRIN in Chernyaevka, on the northern Uzbek-Kazakh frontier, about 50 km from the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. "Do you have time for me to check your luggage? If not, then you must pay me," Timur, an aggressive young man in civilian clothes, describing himself as an "intern" told IRIN at the custom house on the Kazakh side.

During the Soviet period, the borders delineating the various republics were merely administrative. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, all five Central Asian republics introduced immigration and customs regulations on their newly-declared frontiers. In the early years of independence, people living in the five republics could freely cross the borders with few problems.

But in the summer of 2000, deteriorating relations between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan led to the implementation of visa regulations between the two countries. Since then, border officials have exploited the new regulations and the necessity for local communities to cross frontiers dividing a region that has for centuries enjoyed freedom of movement.

Although Kazakhstan has no visa regime for those from other Central Asian countries, in 2003 Astana introduced migration cards for visitors in order to monitor entries. The new controls and bureaucratic procedures at border crossing points have created job opportunities for some enterprising locals who offer a variety of services to frustrated travellers willing to pay the price. Those without proper identification can be smuggled across for a few US dollars.

"If you want to cross the border, I can help you to take a detour for 1,000 Kazakh tenge or 7,500 Uzbek sums [US $7]," said Marat, a young man equally happy to smuggle either people or goods across the bleak frontier. The introduction of the cards has also allowed border officials to make money by levying illegal charges against those wishing to cross without the correct documentation.

"If you pay the frontier guards directly, you can cross the border for about 2000 Uzbek sums [US $2]," said Berik, another local "travel agent" hovering near the Chernyaevka border looking for a customer. A common scam is for customs officials to confiscate a traveller's passport. A "civilian" will then offer to help get the passport back in return for a large sum of money.

Corruption amongst border officials between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan is fuelling local discontent on both sides of the 2,200 km shared frontier. The issue of border delineation, a legacy of the Soviet Union, remains problematic throughout much of the region. "The Kazakh frontier-guards took from us 2000 Uzbek sums [US $2] for me and my daughter just to cross the border. It is so insulting, because they do not have right to do it but I was afraid of consequences. They have the power to stop me crossing the border. What can I do? I have to go to the funeral," Guli Opa added.

From AlertNet, April 11, 2006

Anti-corruption Conference Co-organized by OSCE Begins in Armenia

Strengthening the co-operation between the Armenia's National Assembly, civil society and the media in the fight against corruption is the focus of a two-day international conference co-organized by the OSCE, which started today in Yerevan. "Only united efforts can bring substantial results in the fight against corruption," said Ambassador Vladimir Pryakhin, Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan. "This is why the OSCE strongly supports the co-operation between national and international actors in this field. In particular the roles of Parliament, civil society and the media are crucial in this aspect, as they raise the public's awareness for the problem and encourage its involvement."

Arthur Baghdasaryan, Speaker of the National Assembly, stressed Armenia's interest in the effective combat of corruption: "This is a political necessity for Armenia. The success in this fight will determine the progress of democracy," he said. The conference brings together some 130 participants from the National Assembly, civil society, media, public oversight bodies, as well as international organizations and foreign experts from the United States, Russian Federation, Poland and Romania to share experiences and exchange views on effective anti-corruption co-operation mechanisms.

The event is organized by the OSCE Office, the Armenian National Assembly, the Eurasia Foundation Representation Office in Armenia and the United Nations Development Programme. The outcome of the discussions will be presented at a press conference tomorrow, 7 April, at 16:30 in the National Assembly's Golden Hall. A conference report containing the conclusions will also be published and distributed to the interested public. Co-operation with the National Assembly and integration of Armenia's civil society in the decision-making process is one of the recommendations adopted at the International Anti-Corruption Conference organized with support of the OSCE Office last November.

The Office has assisted Armenia in the fight against corruption since 2000, mainly by co-ordinating activities of the international working group and strengthening civil society. Currently, the Office supports the NGO Anti-Corruption Coalition in activities to address awareness-raising in education and health sectors, legal assistance to drivers, and by building bridges between the Government and the media.

From Noticias.Info, April 07, 2006

WB Postpones Funding Indian Health Program on Corruption Claims

"The World Bank has postponed funding to the crucial second phase of a child health program, citing possible fraud and corruption in procurement of medicines," reports Asia Pulse (Australia). "The Bank has also withheld loans to two other health sector projects until the corruption issue is addressed. 'We have postponed consideration of a second Reproductive and Child Health Program (RCH) program and two other health sector loans by the Board of the Bank. These are the Second National Tuberculosis Control Project and the Karnataka Health Systems Project,' the multilateral agency said in a statement. This will give more time for discussion between the Bank and the Indian government on the most effective ways to address issues of fraud moving forward, it said.

World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity has been conducting an investigation into allegations of possible fraud and corruption in the procurement of pharmaceuticals as part of the Bank-supported Reproductive and Child Health Program (RCHP). World Bank strongly believes that corruption and leakages are a major development issue for they undermine the intended outcomes for which public money is spent, the statement said. 'The Government of India shares this concern,' it added. (...)"

In an op-ed published in The Indian Express, World Bank Country Director of India, Michael Carter writes, "There is little doubt that India has significantly improved the well being of its people in recent years. With phenomenal growth over the past two decades, it has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty and in improving major social indicators like literacy. India's latest achievements - the services sector boom, vibrant middle-class, quality of technical human resources, emerging global economic presence, and so on - have become a dominant discourse of our times," writes

"Thanks to this record, the world has grown to acknowledge India's inherent ability to overcome its daunting development challenges. Nevertheless, the fact remains that at this time there exist two Indias - the India of high technology and exciting services and consumer class-led growth, and the India of depressing poverty, lagging regions, appalling public services, and avoidable human misery. Let us look at the enormity of the challenges India still faces and how much it lags even by developing country standards. Eritrea reports 45 infant deaths per 1,000 live births; India is at a high 63. In Botswana, 100 of every 100,000 women die during childbirth; India's figure is 408.

A crucial impediment in India's march to development is the quality of its public expenditure. It is generally recognized that there is a very poor connect in India between the quantum of public money allocated and the accessibility and quality of services delivered. As a result, despite ambitious and expensive government programs in almost every sector of human development since Independence, over a quarter of India's population languishes below the destitution line while a huge proportion of those above it remains vulnerable to slipping back into poverty with a single shock, such as a natural disaster or illness. If India truly wants to take the fruits of its rapid economic growth to every section of its diverse society, it needs to plug the leaks in its public expenditure. For corruption is among the greatest obstacles to equitable economic and social development. It distorts the rule of law and weakens the institutional foundation on which economic growth depends. It is especially severe on the poor, who are most reliant on the provision of public services and are least capable of paying the extra costs associated with bribery and fraud.

As the globe's foremost development institution, the World Bank is profoundly committed to improving the quality of people's lives. We at the Bank strongly believe that corruption and leakages are a major development issue for they undermine the intended outcomes for which public money is spent. The Government of India shares this concern. In pursuit of this commitment, the World Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity has been conducting an investigation into allegations of possible fraud and corruption in the procurement of pharmaceuticals under the Bank-supported Reproductive and Child Health Program I (RCH I). The investigation is still ongoing, but we have shared our findings so far with the Indian government and are working closely with it to resolve the issues.

Because corruption ultimately sabotages policies and programs that aim to reduce poverty, a crucial part of the World Bank's mission as a development institution is to help support anti-corruption efforts anywhere. By insisting on rigorous and stringent procurement procedures for projects we are involved in, we hope to demonstrate development benefits of outcome-based public expenditure. In India, we are fully committed to backing the government's efforts to bring its procurement procedures up to the highest international standards of integrity and transparency. Needless to say, the Bank can only perform a bit part in this effort to reduce the corrosive impact of corruption in a sustainable way. The most decisive intervention can only come from Indian civil society, that vital band of stakeholders in good governance, and institutions like the media that, in India, mediate so effectively between the state and the public."

From Noticias.Info, April 07, 2006

Royal Call To End Corruption

Corruption has to be stopped as it is believed to bring about bad effects to the community and national harmony, besides being against the teachings of Islam." This was stated by Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah in a Sabda during the launching ceremony for the second season of "KOD 486", a local drama series based on the fight against corruption. The ceremony was held at the Jerudong Park Amphitheatre yesterday morning.

Her Royal Highness stressed that corruption, no matter how small, if left uncontrolled could cripple the nation. "Not only is it prohibited in Islam, but it could also tarnish the nation's integrity, the authority of the public service sector as well as an individual's standing in the eyes of society," Her Royal Highness added.

Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah said, "According to official statistics of Brunei Darussalam, more than 41 per cent of the total population in the country are youths, who will in the future become assets of the country. There is no denying that youths will be not spared from exposure to unhealthy elements like drugs abuse, loitering, corruption and so on, which may affect the future of not only the youths but their family and the nation in general."

Her Royal Highness urged youths to focus on their future, which is filled with challenges, while instilling a sense of patriotism in themselves and to avoid anti-social behaviour by being involved in activities that increases the value of life for the community, religion .and country. Her Royal Highness said production of the anticorruption Malay drama series, "KOD 486", is a project that was implemented by the Anti Corruption Bureau, with more youths involved in the second season.

The involvement of teenagers in the project is a good sign and that they could easily be involved in activities that would benefit the community at large, Her Royal Highness said, adding projects such as "KOD 486", should be emulated by all parties as a way to involve youths in the fight against corruption in the country. Her Royal Highness concluded her speech by urging the Anti Corruption Bureau to always assess the effectiveness of every project and plan in order to achieve the desired objectives.

After the Sabda, Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pengiran Anak Isteri Pengiran Anak Sarah officially launched the second season of local Malay drama series "KOD486", which aims to raise awareness on the negative impact of corruption and to increase public knowledge on the objectives and duties of the Anti Corruption Bureau. Also present at the ceremony were Datin Paduka Hajah Intan binti Haji Md Kassim, Director of Anti Corruption Bureau, senior officials from various government agencies and officers from the Anti Corruption Bureau.

Her Royal Highness also received a "pesembah" from Datin Paduka Hajah Intan during the ceremony. Several high-risk stunts from the drama were performed by the cast of "KOD 486" during the ceremony while local artistes and the drama's main characters Zamarul Hisham and Tia Duarte performed several songs. At the end of the ceremony, Her Royal Highness consented to meet with the entire cast of "KOD 486". The second season of "KOD 486" is expected to air on Radio Television Brunei during the third week of April.

From Brunei.Direct, April 04, 2006

Civil Service: Minds Have Been Conditioned

As long as there is a perception that they are not going to be treated fairly in the public service, the non-Malays will not show keenness to even apply for government jobs. Even professionals in the public sector do not feel that they are fairly treated and either resign or retire early to go private. It is not a secret that many of the few non-Malays in the public sector are given 'promotions' just when they are about to retire maybe to show that they are indeed given promotions.

While in the early days after Merdeka, such a biased treatment was greeted by protests, the very many legislation and practices on the guise of 'restructuring society' under the NEP have created 'conditioned' minds both among the Malays - that the public sector is theirs - and among the non-Malays that their future might be better served in the private sector. Not many people talk about it, but the mind is conditioned to accept this. Just look at our public universities. The number of non-Malay professors in the various fields will also show the same pattern. Very few senior positions are held by them.

This trend has created situations where nearly 100 percent of the public sector interview board members are Malays who choose the applicants for jobs, promotions, study awards etc, and non- Malay candidates don't stand a chance, unless a quota has been set. While in the private sector performance is seen as a vital factor, it isn't the same in the public sector. It is not a secret that in many government departments, appraisals are done in such a manner that all - performers and non-performers alike - can taste the goodies in turns.

Who can change this scenario? The negative effects are very glaring. The public sector uses Bahasa Malaysia while the private sector favours English. If more non-Malays perform better in English, is it surprising? This trend will continue unabated if the national leadership does not wish to bring about the change to 'restructure' the public sector.

It is no use just saying, 'Not many non-Malays are applying for the government jobs.' Erstwhile government policies have created this situation. The choices are there. Go on as at present and wipe out the non-Malays from the civil service or come up with a workable strategy to convince the non-Malay candidates that they have do a future in the Malaysian civil service.

From Malaysia Kini, April 03, 2006

 

Interim Haitian Leader to Probe Corruption

Haiti's interim leader announced a probe into the finances of all government agencies amid allegations of corruption by state officials in the aftermath of a bloody revolt that toppled the previous government. The audit will be conducted by Haiti's High Court of Accounts and Administrative Disputes and will cover the two-year administration of the U.S-backed interim government, interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue's office said in a statement released Monday evening.

Jean-Junior Joseph, Latortue's communication director, said all government ministers and their aides have been ordered to cooperate with the probe, which comes amid growing reports of corruption and mismanagement by interim officials and courts. Last month, several judges were placed under investigation for allegedly accepting thousands of dollars in bribes to grant bail to a group of jailed kidnapping suspects, Joseph said. The judges have been suspended pending a review of their case.

"Based on the rumors of corruption, the prime minister took this step to ... unveil suspicions of corruption," Joseph said of the audit. "Any government official who signs checks will be audited, including the prime minister himself." The interim government was appointed in March 2004 to replace President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who fled the country amid a three-week revolt in February 2004. Rene Preval, a former president and one-time Aristide ally, won Feb. 7 presidential elections and is due to take power next month.

It's unclear when the audit will be completed, but a full review could take months or longer. Investigators probing corruption during Aristide's rule have yet to make public their findings. Latortue's government had alleged that tens of millions of dollars in state funds disappeared under Aristide, who is living in exile in South Africa. Aristide has denied stealing state funds.

From The Mercury News, April 10, 2006

Can Simpson Miller Eliminate Corruption?

In her inaugural speech, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller vowed to eliminate corruption. Her ideal was posited exactly 14 years after her predecessor said that not even the smell of corruption would be allowed to destroy the fabric of the Jamaican society. Any analysis will show that the corruption still flourishes; the notion of eliminating it remains an ideal.

Many scholars have posited various definitions of corruption, but Daniel Kaufmann narrowly defines it as "the abuse of public office for private gain." Some examples of corrupt behaviour include bribery, extortion, fraud, embezzlement, nepotism, cronyism, influence peddling and an appropriation of public assets and properties for private use. Importantly, a corrupt deal does not only involve the giver and the taker in collaboration, it can be undertaken by a single person.

POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE CORRELATIONS - Unfortunately, corruption shares a positive correlation with productivity and a negative correlation with resources. If corruption as the common factor is taken out of the equation, it is then that we ought to seriously consider the co-relation between productivity and resources. Scholars have articulated this view, and with the result of empirical testing, the 'grease the wheel hypothesis' is generally accepted much to the neglect of its counterpart, the 'sand the wheel hypothesis'.

In his article, 'We are all corrupt', Selwyn Ryan argued that corruption is not an African, Asian or Latin American phenomenon, but one that is pervasive in our political system as well. Very little, he argued, has appeared about the subject in the Caribbean for three reasons: firstly, given the absence of documentary evidence, the public relies on the gossip network for information about official malfeasance; secondly, corruption is the tradition of secrecy which prevails in our political system; and thirdly, the behaviour of media in the Caribbean to conceal corruption.

In his book, Development Administration: Jamaican Adaptations, Edwin Jones was more profound in his arguments. He argued that an ideal public administrative sector should act principally as facilitator of private enterprise. As a consequence, the bureaucracy mainly lacks pragmatism and innovation towards solving domestic problems. Recognising that the principle of orthodoxy and tradition is being challenged by new learning, Jones highlighted the potentially corrupt relationship between the state bureaucracy and other elites, having convinced that the state would function on the basis of elitism.

Both Caribbean scholars, Jones and Ryan, have not been alone over the past 30 years in recognising the incestuous relationship between the bureaucracy and the elite. They acknowledged the lead role the bureaucracy played in the level of corruption. With the globalisation of ideas, methods, systems and the intensification of special interests, as a nation, we are held in the crucible of our present difficult circumstances. These questions are therefore asked: Are Jamaicans experiencing the unintended consequences of globalization, or are we inherently corrupt?

GREASE THE WHEEL HYPOTHESIS - It is argued that excessive taxes and regulation red tape would remain excessive without bribery, but with the possibility of bribery, they may be transformed to less 'real red tape', that is, public officials not enforcing all the rules and regulations in exchange for bribes. This is the exception, and political scientists are not alone in pointing out that, ethical considerations aside, bribery may in fact improve efficiency. The efficient grease hypothesis states that corruption can improve efficiency and that fighting corruption would be counter-productive.

In the book, Political Order in Changing Societies, Samuel P. Huntington stated that, "In terms of economic growth, the only thing worse than a society with a rigid, overcentralised, dishonest bureaucracy is one with a rigid overcentralised, honest bureaucracy." In a working paper, Meon and Weill argued that the bureaucratic inefficiency that could be compensated by corruption is slowness. In the Journal of Modern African Studies Vol. 3, C. Leys argued that bribes could give bureaucrats an incentive to speed up the establishment of new firms, in an otherwise sluggish administration. In his academic paper, 'An equilibrium Queuing Model of Bribery', F.T. Lui showed in a formal model that corruption could efficiently lessen the time spent in queues. Ironically, the key component in the various arguments is 'time' and the efficiency of time results in greater productivity. Unfortunately, scholars and practitioners have accepted this 'corrupt' realisation.

Another strong supporting argument for the efficient grease hypothesis, is that corruption may complement the bureaucracy by indirectly improving the quality of its civil servants. Given that wages and salaries in government are low, the potential for 'hustlings and runnings' may constitute additional income or perks, and this may attract highly-skilled civil servants who would otherwise have opted for other jobs. Furthermore, there are civil servants who will extend their competencies and normal working hours, but this gesture is not a matter of being a good civil servant. Instead, it is just for the 'runnings and hustlings'. In the end, the efficiency level of the bureaucracy will increase.

SAND THE WHEEL HYPOTHESIS - The sand the wheel hypothesis makes the assumption that nothing is gained from corruption at the aggregate level, in that, although large sums of money are paid, only individuals and not government revenues will benefit. This is a hypothetical example: If a government agency is awarding offenders tickets for unlawful behaviour, and these tickets must be submitted following long queues to a slow-moving cashier for verification and payment, a briber may want to circumvent this laborious process. This would save him time, effort and money; also, his partner will be richly rewarded. This leakage from government revenues may be identified by the institutional framework which will immediately impose measures to minimise such leakage. In so doing, another layer of the bureaucracy will be piled on, and the corrupt public sector worker will once more design other strategies to protect his or her illegal income. As a consequence, the process will be repeated over and over again. With added layers of bureaucracy, after a while, the once-efficiently greased wheels will turn no more, hence, the 'sand the wheel hypothesis' will reject the 'efficient grease hypothesis'.

Once the wheels of corruption have been clogged in one area of the bureaucracy, influence peddling or actively pursuing special interests may extend corrupt practices to other areas as well. Not surprisingly, other areas may include the judiciary and the legislature. This is the extent to which corruption in one area of the bureaucracy can infect other areas. Jones and Ryan argued that corrupt officials have an incentive to create distortions in other areas of the bureaucracy, in order to preserve their illegal sources of income. In his speech to the Summit of Eight in 1997, Laurence Summers stated that corruption threatens economic growth and stability in many ways by discouraging business, undermining legal notions of property rights and perpetuating vested interests.

Unfortunately, the validity of the efficient grease hypothesis is difficult to reject. Scholars and practitioners have reluctantly accepted this hypothesis. The sand the wheel hypothesis is also difficult to accept as the cracks that were taped over began opening up again. So we are faced with a dilemma: Do we want a bureaucracy that is characterised by corruption and efficiency, or its counterpart, one that is starved of resources and inefficient?

Sadly, the choice is in the hands of our Prime Minister Simpson Miller who we believe has the potential to minimise corruption. Even though a former U.S. President, Ronald Reagan once said: "Government is not about solving problems, government is the problem," we have no empirical evidence to suggest that this statement is consistent with the expectations and rejuvenated spirit of our bureaucracy, and by extension the society.

From The Mercury News, April 10, 2006

Ethics Reform: Not Quite Getting There

Ethics reform was in the news last week as Gov. John Lynch signed an ethics bill into law and the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill senators claimed would at least partially clean up Washington. Of course, neither gets to the heart of the issue, which is too much power flowing to government. The Senate ethics bill passed by a vote of 90-8, a sure sign that it won't clean up squat. It goes after lobbyist-provided meals and entertainment but leaves untouched the big-money activity such as lobbyist-sponsored fund-raisers and corporate-funded travel for members of Congress.

The state bill signed by Gov. Lynch is better. It creates an ethics panel for the executive branch and requires better reporting for lobbyists. It also restricts gifts from lobbyists, which probably won't help much. What neither bill does, however, is reduce the power of elected officials. As everyone knows, power corrupts. Elected officials engage in unethical behavior almost exclusively for one reason: to stay in power. The most effective way to curtail this behavior would be to limit the power of elected officials. And the best way to do that is to impose term limits. That would be real ethics reform. Which is why it won't happen.

From Union Leader, April 02, 2006

 

Wolfowitz Unveils Anti-Corruption Strategy

World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz unveiled corruption fighting measures on Tuesday that will change the way the Bank designs and approves development projects for poor countries," reports Reuters. "In a speech [given] while traveling in East Asia, Wolfowitz said graft was a major impediment to development and the Bank would step up transparency and anti-corruption efforts on three fronts."

The first front "involves 'significantly' expanding anti-corruption efforts at the country level" notes The Washington Post 'I will be asking my staff in high-risk countries to develop a strategy to mobilize all World Bank instruments - loans, grants, research, technical assistance and private-sector investment - to strengthen governance and fight corruption,' Wolfowitz said. That mobilization of resources will include increased investment in 'such key areas as judicial reform, civil service reform, the media and freedom of information and decentralization of public service delivery.'

Second, he said, 'we are implementing a new system for minimizing the risk of corruption in World Bank-funded projects.' Anti-corruption experts will be deployed in Bank offices, and project plans will have to 'address the incentives and opportunities to fight corruption right from the start,' rather than waiting for allegations to arise. Third, the Bank will expand its partnerships with other groups, such as other multilateral development banks in Asia, Africa and Latin America. (...)"

Dow Jones adds that during his speech Wolfowitz said he "(…) recently met with the heads of other unspecified multilateral development banks to develop an effective common blacklist strategy. 'I believe it would be good if all development institutions would publicly blacklist firms and individuals that engage in bribery in projects,' Wolfowitz said. 'So if (a company) steals from one of us, they can't go on to steal from the rest.' (...)"

The Financial Times (UK) reports that "(…) Huguette Labelle, of Transparency International, the anti-graft watchdog, said regional organizations such as the Asian Development Bank should follow the World Bank by publishing their internal blacklists of corrupt companies. 'By not publishing these lists, development banks are giving corrupt companies the chance to receive new loans from commercial lenders,' she added. Transparency International also welcomed the World Bank's new drive to prevent the flow of stolen funds into tax havens and private banking accounts. (...)"

The New York Times notes that this was the first time Wolfowitz "(...) described his plans to make fighting corruption a pervasive issue in the Bank's operations. (…) In remarks after the speech, he said he wanted Bank managers to understand that they would be rewarded 'as much for saying no to a bad loan as for getting a good one out the door.' (...)

Under Wolfowitz, the staff of the Bank's Department of Institutional Integrity will grow to 65 from 53. Its budget will expand by almost $5 million. The Bank says more than 140 suspected corruption cases in a backlog of 387 cases have been closed since Wolfowitz took over, but many new ones have been opened as staff members have been encouraged to report suspected instances of corruption. (...)

Bangladesh is a case study of how the changes are playing out. Last December, the Bank canceled $35 million in loans to Bangladesh after corruption was found in the bidding process on 14 road-building contracts. But the Bank is not washing its hands of Bangladesh. In discussions with the Bank's board, Bank managers noted that Bangladesh had made impressive strides in educating girls, reducing child mortality and increasing life expectancy despite what they called 'serious governance weaknesses.' They anticipate $3 billion in loans over the next five years, with a particular focus on strengthening accountability. (...)"

From Noticias.Info, April 12, 2006

 
 

E-governance Project on Course in Delhi

The government's e-governance project, MCA21, has stabilised in New Delhi after some initial hiccups. Rollout of the Delhi leg of the project is critical because the registry here serves about 1.4 lakh companies - the largest concentration among about 7 lakh companies in India. Electronic filing of documents is the key feature of MCA21, which aims to bring about a paperless environment, shorten the time taken by the ministry of company affairs (MCA) to provide services, and provide greater transparency. Soon after the MCA21 was launched in New Delhi on March 18, 2006 by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the facilitation office set up by the government to help smaller companies make the transition to electronic filing of documents struggled to cope with the rush.

The facilitation centre, named Physical Front Office (PFO), had to cope with a rush of people who misunderstood its nature of work, government officials said. PFOs are designed to help companies file documents. However, a number of early arrivals at the New Delhi PFO had come to apply for the unique director's identity number, Director Identification Number (DIN). Tanmoy Chakravarty, vice-president and head of global government and industry group at Tata Consultancy Services, the software company that is implementing MCA21, said the New Delhi PFO staff had to spend the first day educating visitors about the role of the centre. The situation has since stabilised, he added.

In order to cope with the sheer number of companies with the New Delhi registry, one PFO was opened in Gurgaon this week. Another PFO is to start functioning in the Noida special economic zone. The speed of service in the New Delhi PFO has improved after an increasing number of people have started bringing data to the centre in electronic form, Chakravarty said. A visit to the PFO showed that typically people who brought data in electronic form were able to get their work done in about a third of the time it took people with hard copy data.

From Business Standard , April 06, 2006

 

Italy to Investigate RFID Potential

A government-backed research centre in Italy is to examine the potential use for RFID (radio frequency identification) in the public sector, according to a report by the European Commission's eGovernment Observatory. The CNIPA, a centre dedicated to the use of new technologies in public administration, will set up a study group involving suppliers, analysts, academics and interested public administrations to investigate the technology. RFID is a track-and-trace technology that is beginning to replace barcodes in many industries; it is a means of storing, receiving and transmitting data via antennas on tags that respond to radio frequency queries. While not currently in use in the public sector, it is thought that RFID could play a role in the future in areas such as enhanced document management, the tracking of cultural heritage goods, and food traceability.

From electricnews.net, 12 April, 2006

Ireland Should Look to M-government: Report

The Irish government could save as much as EUR20 million a year by increasing its use of mobile technologies, a new report claims. The study, "Mobile Communications in the Irish Public Sector", was carried out by iReach on behalf of mobile operator O2 Ireland. It maintains that mobile services not only provide a major opportunity for greater application of e-government than traditional computer-based technologies, they also offer the potential for a significant increase in public sector productivity and job satisfaction. The iReach report identifies a number of areas where greater adoption of mobile technology can reduce costs through increased public sector productivity, as well as boosting services to the citizen.

From electricnews.net, 12 April, 2006

Ireland and UK Make E-conveyancing Moves

Both Ireland and the UK have taken steps toward the rollout of an "e-conveyancing" system, in a move to make the transfer of property ownership a more efficient process. On 5 April, Ireland's Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, launched the Law Reform Commission's report on e-conveyancing. The commission noted that Ireland's antiquated system of land law must be reformed before e-conveyancing can be implemented. IT consultancy Bearing Point analysed the conveyancing process for the report, which recommended the establishment of a "project board" of key stakeholders from the public and private sector to make an assessment of the most appropriate model for e-conveyancing in Ireland. Meanwhile, in the UK, the Land Registry has been given permission to launch an e-conveyancing pilot system in October 2007. Stakeholders in the property industry will be issued with Home Information Packs outlining the changes to be made next June. It is anticipated that e-conveyancing will transform the current paper-based conveyancing system into electronic documents, requisitions and signatures.

From electricnews.net, 12 April, 2006

UK Council Sites Gain Popularity

The number of visitors to local authority websites in the UK rose by 40 percent during 2005, according to a new study by Socitm Insight, the research arm of an organisation of local authority IT managers. The study, based on a sample of 46 council websites across the UK, estimates that 11.4 million people visited local government sites in February 2006 - a figure that represents around 15 percent of the population and over 20 percent of internet users. Four out of five visitors reported a satisfactory experience and said they had found at least part of the information they were seeking. Job vacancies were the top reason for visiting council sites, at 14 percent of all enquiries, but their dominance is decreasing as other applications attract more interest, such as library information (8 percent), planning applications (5 percent) and sport and leisure facilities (5 percent). "The government's advertising campaign [to increase take-up], which breaks in May, will have a significant impact given that usage of council websites is already on a sharp upward curve," said Martin Greenwood, programme manager for Socitm Insight.

From electricnews.net, 12 April, 2006

 

Saudi Arabia Forges Ahead with E-government Rollout

The Saudi Arabian government is striding ahead of its European counterparts in terms of e-government development, claims a new study sponsored by Cisco Systems and the Saudi Ministry for Communications and Information Technology. The 2005 Net Impact study, carried out by Momentum Research Group, compares government and healthcare operations and services in Saudi Arabia in 2005 to those of other countries in Europe in 2004. The study said that the use of ICT had helped Saudi Arabian government departments boost customer satisfaction rates by 44 percent and that the number of citizens using e-services had risen by 34 percent, both higher figures than were found in Europe.

Saudi Arabian departments are also forging ahead in the adoption of technology, with 95 percent using finance and accounting applications and 79 percent having a web interface for workforce collaboration and training. "The notably higher rates of application implementation in Saudi Arabia in 2005 compared to our research in Europe in 2004 may be due to the time-lag between the studies, or the very real possibility that Saudi Arabia has leapfrogged ahead," said Yvon Le Roux, vice president, public sector, Cisco Systems Europe and Emerging Markets.

From electricnews.net, 12 April, 2006

eOman Launched

Muscat - Maqbool bin Ali Sultan, minister of commerce and industry, yesterday launched eOman, the Sultanate of Oman's digital society initiative from the Information Technology Technical Secretariat of the Ministry of National Economy, during a ceremony attended by members of the royal family, ministers, undersecretaries, diplomats, IT professionals, leading public and private sector officials and dignitaries.

The event, held at Al Bustan Palace Hotel, also marked the unveiling of the eOman logo and the launch of Arif, the official mascot of eOman, along with the launch of the official eOman website - www.itec.gov.om - in an innovative manner. A multimedia film showcasing Oman's foray into e-Government, various eOman initiatives and their benefits was also screened. eOman is founded on His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said's progressive vision to transform the Sultanate into a knowledge society and build a knowledge-based economy.

Spearheaded by the Information Technology Technical Secretariat (ITTS) of the Ministry of National Economy in association with various public and private sector entities, eOman aims at creating an effective government-community-citizen infrastructure that provides better public services to people, resulting in a meaningful information flow between the government and citizens.

"eOman will offer every citizen, business and government entity a wide variety of convenient, cost-effective and customer-oriented electronic services that will empower and transform life for the better," said Mohammed Nasser Al Khusaibi, secretary-general of Ministry of National Economy, on the occasion. Khusaibi said the Digital Oman strategy stressed the need for creating awareness among the public about the potentials of harnessing ICT in all walks of life. He noted that increasing the IT awareness, spreading IT literacy, capacity building for manpower will be addressed carefully in the implementation of Digital Oman.

Dr Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, head of ITTS and member of the IT Executive Committee, spoke about the status of the government infrastructure, the various projects undertaken by the ITTS and their progress. He also provided an update of the existing as well as forthcoming e-Services under the umbrella of eOman. "eOman is a momentous initiative of the government of Oman in its march ahead to transform the nation and empower its citizens towards building a knowledge society.

Creating and awareness about the potentials of information and communication technologies is the prime focus of eOman. To this epic task we have reached yet another milestone since the establishment of the Digital Oman strategy in 2003," he said. Empowering the human resource of Oman with information communication technology skills is seen as a main pillar in the IT strategy for Oman. The implementation of the strategy carefully addresses the bridging the digital divide between the technology-enabled and the other communities of the society. Towards this eOman shall reach various focus groups of Oman in their region and conduct both IT awareness as well as literacy campaigns. The awareness of e-Services offered by the public and private sectors is also seen as prime success factor in the implementation of Digital Oman strategy. eOman takes this mission forward and ensures the success of this implementation.

Leveraging ICT power for economic and social benefit is eOman's greatest goal. Integrating government departments to provide more efficient public services, increasing IT literacy, developing the economy through smart electronic services, creating local knowledge industries, and minimising the digital divide are some initiatives undertaken by eOman.

The eOman logo unveiled at the function highlights the promising future ushered by e-government in Oman. Arif, the friendly eOman mascot, will play a crucial role over the months communicating with people about the immense opportunities and advantages offered by eOman. The eOman website will support Arif in communicating the various electronic services with citizens, businesses and government. The Information Technology Technical Secretariat will conduct road shows shortly. These road shows comprise seminars and e-Government-orientation sessions in the governorates and regions of Oman to initiate public awareness of eOman and empower people with IT literacy.

From Times of Oman, 15 April, 2006

Qatar Pioneer in E-government

Sheikh Hamad bin Jabr Al Thani exhibited extreme cool and replied convincingly when a Qatari member of the audience criticised the Planning Council and said it had belied the hopes of the common man. Hasan Al Jaffiri launched a tirade against the government and some of its policies. "I was happy when the council was founded but am dejected now," said Al Jaffiri, calling for a bigger role for the private sector in the GCC in industrial development. He also blasted Qatar's e-government project for being slow.

"It is a huge project. Adequate infrastructure needs to be built to support it and it takes time. Qatar is a pioneer in this field," said Sheikh Hamad bin Jabr. "We are a strategic agency," he said of the Planning Council. "We have a definite role and closely interact with other departments," he said. "You are elder to me by a few years and you should be aware more than I am that we as a country have a come a long way," said Sheikh Hamad.

From The Peninsula, 15 April, 2006

 

Relationships the Key to Future Success

Knowledge workers will become organisations most valuable source of competitive advantage over the next 15 years, whether in outward-facing functions such as sales or inward-facing ones such as knowledge management. That's one of the predictions made in Foresight 2020, a new research report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) which explores what companies and economies might look like in 15 years time. By way of comparison, remember that at the start of the 1990s, the Soviet Union still existed, German reunification had only just taken place and both the Internet and commercial email were in their infancy.

According to the EIU research, based on a survey of more than 1,650 executives, trends over the next 15 years will include the value of price competitiveness to customers declining relative to other factors, such as personalisation of products and quality of customer service. As far as the way organisations will behave in the future, respondents to the survey said that employees' ability to communicate, to solve problems and to lead will be more important to future success than functional and technical capabilities.

"The focus of management attention will be on the areas of the business, from innovation to customer service, where personal chemistry or creative insight matter more than rules and processes", says Andrew Palmer, the editor of the report. "Customers are looking for a higher level of interactivity and personalisation," said Rob Lloyd, Senior Vice President of Cisco, which sponsored the research. "To be successful, companies have to invest in workers and technologies that can drive collaboration and interactions inside and outside the company across the entire value chain of customers, partners and suppliers."

Although increased automation of processes remains a prominent focus for productivity growth, particularly in non-services industries, respondents expect to focus more energy on improving organisational structures and communication as sources of enhanced productivity. Processes, firms, customers and supply chains will fragment as companies expand overseas. As a result, effective collaboration will become more important. The boundaries between different functions, organisations and even industries will blur. Following on from this, organisations will need to develop more collaborative relationships. A majority of the executives surveyed believe that high-quality relationships with outside parties will become more important as a source of competitive advantage between now and 2020.

Customers and suppliers will become more involved in product development, cross-functional and cross-border teams will work together more frequently and partnerships with other organisations will proliferate. A knock-on effect of this change will be a big shift in IT investment away from general infrastructure and reporting and onto communications and collaboration technologies that enable knowledge management and customer service.

More broadly, the report also examines the effect of demographic change on economies, companies and customers. The favourable demographic profile of the US will help to spur growth, it predicted, while ageing populations in Europe will inhibit it. Industries will therefore need to target more products and services at ageing populations, from investment advice to low-cost, functional cars. At the same time, there will be a redistribution of economic power. Emerging markets, China and India in particular, will take a larger slice of the world economy and non-OECD markets will account for a higher share of revenue growth between now and 2020 than OECD economies.

From Management.Issues.com, April 03, 2006

E-Gov Knowledge Management Conference 2006

The Knowledge Management 2006 Conference program will bring together government, industry, and academic professionals who are focused on advancing KM within their organizations and across the public sector. This recognized annual gathering of KM practitioners is designed to be an interactive, valuable professional education and networking experience. This year's KM Conference will be held in conjunction with the E-Learning 2006 Solution Seminar. This event will discuss convergence among KM and E-Learning strategies and technologies, as well as important operational and technical developments in the government E-Learning arena.

Both programs will review new and expanding government KM and E-Learning programs, discuss best practices and practical implementation strategies for each. Abstract submissions are encouraged that show how current and future technologies can be brought to bear to support the burgeoning KM market and E-Learning agenda across government agencies. Location: Washington DC, United States of America; Date: 19 - 21 April 2006; Organised By : EGov Institute.

From eGov Online.net, April 13, 2006

 
 

Kutengule Posted to OPC

Interdicted Secretary to the Treasury (ST) Milton Kutengule has been given a new job as Principal Secretary (PS) in the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Weekend Nation has established. Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Public Service and Human Resource Development, Bright Msaka confirmed the posting on Wednesday in an interview. Msaka said Kutengule was posted when President Bingu wa Mutharika appointed Randson Mwadiwa as Secretary to the Treasury replacing acting ST Patrick Kabambe who was appointed Secretary for Agriculture.

Kabambe started acting last October when Kutengule was interdicted and later arrested in connection with his involvement in the K20 million Credit Scheme Account for which he was a sole signatory, a development that resulted in theft of government money. Kutengule refused to comment when contacted Wednesday and referred the matter to Msaka saying he is the best person to comment on the issue. Apart from Kutengule, the Credit Scheme Account also implicated Mutharika, convicted former Education Minister Yusuf Mwawa, Finance Minister Goodall Gondwe and several other cabinet ministers and senior government officials.

Part of the money was alleged to have been used to fund Mardef's initial activities. Some of it was said to have been used for wooing MPs to support government. The Public Finance Committee of Parliament is supposed to come up with a report on the matter and recommendation on the way forward. Kutengule's issue was one of the grounds the UDF used in its bid to impeach President Mutharika in Parliament.
Msaka said Kutengule was posted on the same conditions as ST saying he will remain interdicted which means he will not be getting his pay and all his benefits under the contract which will remain suspended.

But senior officials in OPC said Kutengule's posting was done to pave way for the appointment of Mwadiwa because it was not possible for Mutharika to replace Kutengule as ST when he (Kutengule) was still legally holding the position. Secretary for Human Resource and Development Sam Madula said PSs can be moved any time because their jobs are administrative in nature.

From nationmalawi.com, 15 April, 2006

 

Chidambaram for Revamp of Public Delivery Systems

Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has favoured a revamp of the health and education sectors to make them world-class institutions with private participation. While the reform process introduced in the country led to a positive growth curve of the economy, it was obvious that many institutions were lagging behind hurting the progress. "We cannot change some Constitutional institutions, but we can make the other institutions work better," he said.

Speaking at a Leadership Roundtable hosted by the Hyderabad-based Satyam Computer Services Ltd. Here on Saturday, Mr. Chidambaram said systems like health and education needed to be revamped and completely reconstructed to ensure their effective functioning. These areas ought to be viewed from a different perspective in the current economic scenario and encouraged to attract investments.

From hindu.com, 23 April, 2006

 

Politics: Padoa Schioppa Plausible Finance Candidate

Tommaso Padoa Schioppa's shares are on the rise for the top post as Finance Minister: Romano Prodi's is known to have spoken of his inclination to designating an economist to garner international credibility. Following today's meeting between Schioppa and Prodi there are few who doubt that he should fill the post eventually. The prospective finance minister's toughest job at hand is handling public finance given Italy's almost certain default on Maastricht parameters on deficit and a global debt standing of 108 pc. Padoa Schioppa had also cropped up as plausible successor to Fazio. Bourn Belluno, 1940, degree in economics (1968), he worked at Banca d'Italia (Foreign Monetary Markets and Research); EU Commission Finance and Economics Director (1979); back to Banca d'Italia (1983-1987); standing Consob chairman. 1998 to 2005 ECB Executive Board Member.

From agi.it, 20 April, 2006

Ministry to Spend 220m Euros on Helicopters

The Ministry of Administration and Internal Affairs (MAI) could organize a public tender for the renewal of its helicopter fleet, according to a draft law published on the MAI website for public discussion. Should the law be adopted, financial resources would be attracted from external credits. The value of the contract would attain 220 million euros, besides taxes, commissions, additional expenses, other products and services). According to the explanatory note attached to the draft, the legislative initiative is justified by the fact that the 12 helicopters used by the institution are now obsolete.

Other institutions demanded the authorization to acquire such aircrafts but as they do not have the necessary operating infrastructure, MAI could take over the fulfillment of their tasks. MAI helicopters could provide logistic support to the Ministry of Health for the development of the regional intervention system and the doubling of the intervention capacity. Institutions involved would have to elaborate the necessary legal frame for the institutional cooperation in the use of the aircrafts.

Authorities set up a plan for the equipment with helicopters between 2007 and 2011, which would allow the implementation of a zonal operational centers system that would cover all Romanian territory. MAI has submitted to public debate another draft for the acquisition of helicopters in 2005, for a total value of 165 million euros. The acquisition was to be made within the frame of a multi-annual program for the 2006 to 2009 period financed by the Ministry of Public Finance. The project was submitted to the government for approval but it was never passed. At that time, MAI had 13 helicopters, one of which has since crashed near Iasi.

From Bucharest Daily News, 17 April, 2006

Stable Taxation System Is Important, FinMin States

Public Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu reaffirmed one day after the Senate passed a legislative proposal of the Conservative Party (PC) regarding a cut in the VAT on basic foodstuff from 19 to 9 percent the position of the Finance Ministry that it is better to keep a stable taxation system for now, ACT Media news agency reports. "We already have a taxation system and we want to keep it stable. I have offered an advantage to the citizens and corporations alike through the flat tax with a lower level compared with the other European countries.'

This advantage of the flat tax allowed the citizens to keep more money in their pockets, which raised criticism from the Monetary Fund, the European Commission and even from some internal quarters. Thus, instead of reducing the charges on some products, we left citizens more money to give them the possibility to consume more," Vladescu said. The minister also explained that the amount of the resulting savings is standing at 1 billion euro. "What some try to do now, in a manner which to me seems petty politics, has nothing to do with the economic strategies or with our effective attempt to support people.

The measure will not have the expected results. Our experiences shows that the products become cheaper only at a first stage, after which the prices come to the initial level or even exceed it. For instance, if someone sells the bread for 100 lei and a 19 percent VAT, it will be selling it with 100 lei and a 9 percent VAT after the reduction we are talking about," he warned. Vladescu thinks no company will renounce that difference in the profit and concluded this is not the moment for such a reduction. "We already have a taxation system offering an advantage to the people, so we should keep the VAT level as it is," Vladescu said.

From reporter.gr, 17 April, 2006

Public Finance: Tuscan Administration Rationalisation Plans

Florence, Italy, Apr 13 - Failing the government's recourse to the Supreme Court concerning Tuscany's passing of regional laws to safeguard current employment levels against cuts to local funding, the Tuscan administration is to press ahead with the aforementioned bill. Deputy Governor Federico Gelli spoke of the administration's design to enact such legislation as a means to avert the prospect of a large number of temporary contracts being severed altogether: "the law in question - Gelli says - was approved by both the administration and the council as a whole in a matter of eight days; it was an extraordinary commitment owing to extraordinary circumstance". The regional law on "Regional Finance Rationalisation Plans" specifies the administration's plans to abide by the caps designated on outlay by central government - foremost 3.8 pc cuts to current expenditure on 2004 levels - without jeopardising jobs. (AGI)

From agi.it, 24 April, 2006

Public Finance Gap to Grow to 3.6 Percent of GDP This Year

Prague, April 3 (CTK) - Czech public finance deficit will grow to 3.6 percent of GDP this year, according to the Finance Ministry's updated estimate, while last year the gap fell to 2.59 percent of GDP from 2.86 percent of GDP in 2004. According to the Maastricht criteria for the euro's adoption, the deficit should not be higher than 3 percent of GDP. The ministry said the predicted deficit was 0.2 percentage points lower than had been put in the convergence programme from 2005. The ministry expects results of local budgets and health insurance companies to be better than in the convergence programme.

"I consider the result of the public budgets for 2005 to be very good. This is the second year in a row that the deficit in the Czech Republic was cut faster than we had pledged within the convergence programme," said Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. For the full of this year, the ministry puts the country's public debt at CZK 969.2 billion or 30.1 percent of GDP. The total public debt consists of the central government debt and debts of health insurers, off-budget funds and local budgets. Last year, the total public debt rose by CZK 46.2 billion to CZK 901.3 billion. Still, the growth was slower than GDP growth and the ratio of debt to GDP fell to 30.49 percent from 30.65 percent in 2004. The Maastricht criteria set the debt ceiling at 60 percent of GDP. Czech GDP grew to CZK 2,956 billion in 2005 from CZK 2,790 billion in 2004.

From praguemonitor.com, 3 April, 2006

 
 

Deora Favours Public-private Partnership for Energy Security

New Delhi: Petroleum Minister Murli Deora Sunday called for a public-private partnership to meet the challenges in energy sector, emphasising the need for newer ways to work towards energy security. "There is a need for new ways for governments and industries - national and international oil companies - to work together towards a common goal of energy security," said the minister at the high-level ministerial conference of 10th International Energy Forum at Doha, Qatar, on "facing the challenges of new era". "At present we have entered a phase where it is important to establish synergy between stakeholders and issues, producers and consumers, innovation and investments, short term needs and long terms goals," Deora said, according to an official statement issued here.

The technological breakthroughs had helped in using resources efficiently and effectively after the oil shock of the 1970s, he said. The minister said that amid the scare of oil shortage, reserve estimates were increased overtime and major hydrocarbon discoveries were made. Deora said that technology improvements were also helping discover new sources of energy. He said that significant amount of resources were being invested across the globe in alternate energy sources.

"We expect that hydrogen would be an important source of energy," he said. Deora added that nuclear energy had the ability to deliver clean carbonless power, safely, reliably and on a massive scale. Speaking on the sharp increase in oil prices from around $12 per barrel to $75 per barrel in past six to seven years, he underlined the need to reorient the approach and understand the challenges on the energy front.

From newkerala.com, April 23, 2006

Telecom Moot on Impact of Low Average Revenue Held

Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari, federal minister for IT and Telecom, while addressing the inaugural session at the Nokia's Conference, appreciated Nokia's initiative and advocated that he was strong supporter of public private partnership as both had a lot to offer to growth of the telecom industry. Prominent speakers from telecom Industry gathered here on Saturday to discuss the challenges and issues faced by emerging markets and the impact of doing business in low Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) regions. The telecom industry conference titled 'Challenges of Low ARPU in New Growth Markets' was organized by Nokia Networks.

Speakers stressed the importance of public private partnership and emphasized that such alliances are imperative to increase the affordability of mobile services and to serve low ARPU customers in a sustainable way. ARPU measures the average monthly revenue generated for each customer unit, such as a cellular phone or pager, that a carrier has in operation. It is a particular challenge facing the new growth markets consisting of countries like Pakistan. In September 2005 the worldwide mobile subscriber base touched 2 billion, which is expected to rise to the 3 billion mark. And though Pakistan is contributing a fair share in this significant growth it is the low ARPU that averages around $4, which is of concern. And it is this issue that was the centre of discussion at this conference.

From Daily Times, Pakistan, 23 April, 2006

Private Sector Partners Take Control of Airports

The ambitious plan to modernise the Delhi and Mumbai airports with private sector participation moved forward on Wednesday, with the special purpose vehicles (SPVs) set up for this purpose getting converted into joint venture companies. Consortia headed by GMR and GVK, selected as partners for the Delhi and Mumbai airports, brought in their share of equity at board meetings held here.

The JV for Mumbai has been named Mumbai International Airport, and GV Krishna Reddy has been appointed as chairman of the company. Similarly, the JV for Delhi has been named as Delhi International Airport, and GM Rao has been appointed as chairman of the company. The management control of the JVs have been transferred to the private sector partners, civil aviation ministry sources said.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had set up two SPVs for the airport modernisation process. Before the management changed hands at the board meeting on Wednesday, AAI chief K Ramalingam was chairman of both SPVs. The private sector partners have brought in their initial share of equity and the JVs have now been set in motion. At the board meeting of Delhi International Airport, representatives of GMR Fraport, Malaysia Airports and IDF were present along with AAI nominees. The meeting allotted 74% of the shares to the private sector consortium, making it the majority stakeholder in the JV.

The newly-reconstituted board of Delhi Airport Company consists of nine directors representing the private sector consortium, apart from the three representatives from the government. While Sanjoy Narain, joint secretary, will represent the civil aviation ministry; HS Bains and P Seth - both board members - will represent AAI. The board authorised the MD of the JV to enter into necessary contracts and agreements for takeover of the airport, a spokesperson for GMR said. The consortium has been entrusted with the task of operating, managing and developing the Delhi airport through a public-private partnership.

From economictimes.indiatimes.com, 19 April, 2006

Public-Private Partnership Needed for Infrastructure Projects

There was a need for public-private partnership for infrastructure projects for the growth of the state, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Rajshekhara Reddy today said. "The Andhra Pradesh government was showing keen interest in the development of the state and has come up with several innovative activities under infrastructure development," Reddy said while speaking as the chief guest at the 'Vision 2020 Happening Hyderabad: The Road Ahead' organised by the Times of India Group here today.

To meet cost of such infrastructure projects, as government had its own limitation, participation of public-private sector was needed, the Chief Minister said. The Chief Minister said his government was of the opinion that the compensation paid to the farmers, whose land has been acquired for the development projects should be adequate in view of the escalating prices of land. He said, however, "it is unfortunate that the farmers were quoting the prices of land beyond government reach."

From newkerala.com, 17 April, 2006

 

TUSIAD Chairman: Prize of the Corporate Governance Is the Productive Utilization of the Resources

Chairman of the Turkish Association of Industrialists and Businessmen (TUSYAD), Omer Sabancy, said that the greatest prize of the corporate governance was the productive utilization of the resources by the companies, thereby easily and rapidly attaining the financial resources. In his speech at the opening of the Panel on "Corporate Governance at Public Enterprises" promoted by the TÜSYAD and prepared by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Sabancý stated that the countries which want to accelerate the economic growth and improve the investment atmosphere attach great importance to the widespread implementations of the corporate governance principles.

Stressing that corporate governance principles necessitate the implementation of these principles also outside the publicly-held companies in Turkey's conditions, Sabancy said: "The implementation of the corporate governance principles such as transparency, accountability, fairness and responsibility are also valid for the administration of the public enterprises as well as the administration of the private sector institutions. Despite the privatization activities which have been going on for years, the public has still an important share in various sectors, which have been liberalized.

The governance understanding which is valid for the public enterprises in Turkey are also significant for the private sector. The implementation of the corporate governance principles at public enterprises forms an area in which the private sector and public sector can compete in equal conditions and encourages the establishment of a strong and competitive business world. It is also important for the success of the privatization of the companies which take place within the context of the privatization and for their successful performance following the privatization."

Omer Sabancy recalled that the efficiently implementation of the corporate governance principles without making discrimination between the public and private sector would mean a change of understanding which would make significant contributions to the EU negotiation process. He added: "A public structure which is organized within the transparency and accountability principles will be able to meet the requirement for the re-definition of the state and citizenship relations."

From thenewanatolian.com,22 April 2006

Greece's Postal Savings Bank Stake Privatization Scheduled for May Reports

The Greek state intends to privatize a 25 to 30 pct stake in the Postal Savings Bank on the Athens Stock Exchange in the second half of May, according to several unsourced Greek press reports. According to the same reports, the prospectus for the initial public offering is expected to be submitted to the Capital Market Commission for approval tomorrow. The valuation of the bank is reportedly about 1.5 bln eur, implying revenues for the state of 375-450 mln eur. Yesterday that bank had reported its 2005 full-year results with net profits coming in at 122.5 mln eur, from 132 mln eur in 2004. The banks deposits stood at 9.9 bln eur, while loans reached 3.05 bln eur.

From Euro2day.gr, 19 April, 2006