WB: countries make headway in governance, anti-corruption

Written by fe Bureau | Chennai | Updated: Jun 30 2009, 05:37am hrs
The World Bank has found out that several countries are putting in a great deal of effort to provide their people corruption-free governance. The latest World Bank update of Worldwide Governance Indicators (WGI-1996-2008) shows many countries making progress in governance and anti-corruption over the past decade. The eighth release of the WGI highlights the serious challenges that remain for rich and poor countries alike and draws attention to the well-established link between better governance and improved development.

The good news is that some countries are recognising and responding to governance challenges and are showing strong improvements that reflect concerted efforts by political leaders, policy makers, civil society, and the private sector, said Aart Kraay, co-author of the report, and lead economist in the development research group of the World Bank.

At the same time, other countries have stagnated, and still others have regressed in key dimensions of governance. In fact, the updated WGI show that current governance standards have plenty of room for improvement in many industrialised countries and emerging economies.

We should not presume that rich and powerful countries have the best levels of governance and corruption control; the financial crisis reminds us that the quality of governance in G8 countries is not always exemplary, said Daniel Kaufmann, co-author of the report, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The WGI is a research project initiated by Kaufmann and Kraay in the late 1990s, and is now co-authored with Massimo Mastruzzi of the World Bank Institute. The authors define governance as the traditions and institutions by which authority in a country is exercised. The WGI measure six broad dimensions of governance, including voice and accountability; political stability and absence of violence; government effectiveness; regulatory quality; rule of law and control of corruption.

The indicators cover 212 countries and territories, drawing together hundreds of variables from 35 different data sources to capture the views of tens of thousands of survey respondents worldwide, as well as thousands of experts in the private, NGO, and public sectors.

Research by many scholars, including WGI authors, show that improved governance strengthens development and not the other way around. When governance is improved by one standard deviation, infant mortality declines by two-thirds and incomes rise about three-fold in the long run. Such advances in governance are readily achievable.

Over the past decade, countries in all regions have shown substantial improvements in governance. Examples include Ghana, Niger and Peru in voice and accountability; Algeria, Angola and Sierra Leone in political stability and absence of violence/terrorism; China, Colombia, and Rwanda in government effectiveness; the Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia and Libya in regulatory quality; Latvia, Liberia and Rwanda in rule of law; and Indonesia, Liberia and Serbia in control of corruption.