ADB report points to local governance reform as a requirement for improving local public services

 LPSI News posted by Administrator
 December 26, 2013

 ADB Report Cover
 Report Cover: Asian Development Outlook 2013

Developing countries in Asia are faced with the challenge of maintaining financial stability while sustaining economic growth. The disconnect between Asia's rapid, sustained growth and its tardy improvement of governance is often viewed as a paradox that calls into question the conventional wisdom that good governance is a critical driver of growth.

The recent Asian Development Outlook (Update, October 2013) notes that good governance is increasingly recognized as not only a goal in itself but also a means to economic growth and improvement in other development indicators. Chapter 2 of the report presents an extensive review of the relevant literature and finds that Asian countries that score high in government effectiveness, regulatory quality, and controlling corruption have grown more quickly than others.

The report notes that while Asia has seen little closing of the governance gap with advanced economies, empirical evidence suggests that improvements in governance will be needed to sustain development momentum and to ensure the benefits of growth are widely shared. Improving public service delivery is an important and effective entry point toward wider governance reform. Evidence from a number of sectors is presented that suggests that the benefits of public services accrue disproportionately to those who are not poor, while the amounts governments spend on the services the poor need most (such as primary education, preventive health care, and drinking water) are limited.

Consistent with the key hypotheses underlying the Local Public Sector Initiative and in line increasing awareness that effective multi-level governance is an important driver for improved development results, this ADB report finds that the degree to which Asian governments are successful in addressing the inefficiency and inequality of public services will depend largely on the extent to which they can use three mechanisms for public service delivery:

  • Empowering citizens enables people to participate in public service delivery or monitor service provision, as well as demand accountability from service providers, thereby limiting scope for corruption.
  • Engaging local governments and the private sector to provide public services addresses communities' particular needs and the uneven delivery of public services across provinces.
  • Expanding information and communication technology provides a catalyst to enhance the leveraging that empowerment and decentralization bring to service delivery.