Recently in Transparency & Governance Category

Wacky Ideas

If I was a better blogger, I would have posted about the nutty conspiracy theory of a North American Union some have talked about. Since, I have been in a blogging mood I'll link to John Hawkins piece about this issue. I hope all those mentioned as pushing this theory got their tinfoil hats for Christmas.

The Story of Transparency International

Ashoka’s video, ‘Champion of Accountability; The Story of Peter Eigen and the founding of the Transparency International’ is available for download on Google Video. The interview gives an interesting overview of how the anticorruption agenda came to the forefront of international development agencies and reflects a personal story of courage and commitment to making this world a better place. A must see.

Q & A with Peter Eigen
Clean sheet: Transparency International’s new chapter
West failing to curb bribery overseas
Bribe Payers Index 2006
Fukuyama, Indrawati join the WB anti-anti-corruption corps
Corrupting practices
Using the Right to Information as an Anti-corruption Tool
Governance matters V

Multimedia (Radio National- Australia);
High Court decides on FOI and conclusive certificates; The High Court decision upholding the government's use of a conclusive certificate to snuff out a Freedom of Information request for tax figures on bracket creep and the first home buyer's scheme is being criticised as a dark day for democracy.

Inside Indonesia's media

Wolfowitz’s Second War

NYT reviews Wolfowtiz’s focus on corruption at the World Bank;

“In his first 15 months as president of the World Bank, Paul D. Wolfowitz has made the fight against corruption in poor countries a hallmark issue, waging an aggressive campaign that has led to the suspension of hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and contracts to nations including India, Chad, Kenya, Congo, Ethiopia and Bangladesh.

It is a new incarnation for Mr. Wolfowitz, a neoconservative intellectual who was a primary architect of the Iraq war during four years as deputy secretary of defense…..

Anticorruption efforts are an essential part of development finance,” said Roberto Dañino, a senior vice president of the bank until early this year. “But getting rid of corruption is not a silver bullet. The bank should not overemphasize its anticorruption agenda at the expense of other policies required for development.”….

He has begun firing back at the critics at internal meetings and in public statements. He notes, for example, that the bank’s lending under his leadership actually rose slightly last year, to nearly $23 billion.

Mr. Wolfowitz says he has tried to rebut what he calls the myth that combating fraud is “somehow at odds with development or becomes an excuse not to provide assistance.” While no one knows how much of the bank’s resources have been improperly diverted, informal estimates range from 10 percent to the 25 percent that Mr. Wolfowitz says went to corrupt cronies and family members of Indonesia’s leadership in the 1990’s…..

The doubts center on Mr. Wolfowitz’s role as a leading advocate of the American invasion of Iraq, with many critics contending that his zeal on corruption reminds them of what they say was his messianic but unrealistic faith that installing democracy by force in Iraq, and by other means through the Middle East, would bring stability to the region.

The criticism has been especially sharp among Europeans at the bank, where many officials say that judgments about what constitutes “good governance” could rupture the bank’s delicate relationships with aid recipients, especially if the judgments are based on information gathered from dissidents and other critics in those countries…

The Norwegian Model

Avoiding Dutch Disease and investing ethically- Norway shows the way;

“The central bank administers the country's pension fund, which is financed mainly by Norway's booming oil and natural gas industries. As the world's third-largest oil exporter, the fund has a king's ransom at its disposal. The last time the the books were balanced, the fund disposed of €196 billion ($250 billion) in assets. Analysts predict it will grow this year to become the second-largest pension fund in the world.

Roughly four percent of the fund's financial resources have gone into the state budget every year since 2001. The money is used to cover shortages and finance projects that benefit the well-being of country's citizens. Most of the remaining sums are invested for future generations -- for the time when Norway's oil and natural gas reserves will have been used up.

The fund is responsible for no less than 0.3 percent of all the stocks traded worldwide, it holds shares in more than 3,200 corporations and its portfolio reads like a "Who's Who" guide to the world of international investment. It includes Blue Chip corporations such as Accor, Adidas, BASF, Porsche, Siemens, Volvo and Zürich Financial. Norway has shown great acumen with its portfolio -- in 2005, it had a return on investment of 11.1 percent, or about €20 billion ($26 billion)….

In November 2004, the government established ethical guidelines for the investment policy of its pension fund. Since then, an Ethical Council has overseen the various investments and separated the good from the bad. Seven corporations -- among them BAE Systems, Boeing and Honeywell -- were recently removed from the portfolio. Norwegian stocks worth 3.3 million Norwegian krona or €420 million ($535 million) have been sold as part of the ethical clean-up effort.

The corporations were blacklisted because of their involvement in arms production -- for producing components that go into the production of nuclear weapons that clash with the "fundamental humanitarian principles" of the Norwegian codex. Overall, 17 arms corporations have been declared off limits by Norway's ethics guardians.
In order to avoid similar investments in the future, Norges Bank has armed itself with a strong condex and team of ethicists. "We want to combine economic and ethical interests," investment director Knut Kjaer says. "We are powerful and we can invest in ethical values."


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