Regional: Development through Empowerment: Delivering Effective Public Services

Sovereign Project | 46195-001

Summary

This research project will examine the role of governance in improving public service provision. In particular, it will analyze how increased transparency of the public sector and empowerment of the poor through greater information dissemination and increased awareness of their rights could be used for effective and efficient provision of public services in developing Asia. Institutionalizing a Social Protection Floor' (SPF) is a novel approach for empowering the people. The SPF provides universal access to a minimum level of essential services (such as health, education, housing, water and sanitation, and other services) and social transfers (in cash or in kind, to ensure income security, food security, adequate nutrition, and access to essential services).

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Project Name Development through Empowerment: Delivering Effective Public Services
Project Number 46195-001
Country Regional
Project Status Approved
Project Type / Modality of Assistance Technical Assistance
Source of Funding / Amount
TA 8177-REG: Development through Empowerment: Delivering Effective Public Services
Technical Assistance Special Fund US$ 850,000.00
Strategic Agendas Inclusive economic growth
Drivers of Change Governance and capacity development
Sector / Subsector Health - Health system development
Information and communication technology - ICT industries and ICT-enabled services
Public sector management - Public expenditure and fiscal management
Gender Equity and Mainstreaming Gender equity
Description

This research project will examine the role of governance in improving public service provision. In particular, it will analyze how increased transparency of the public sector and empowerment of the poor through greater information dissemination and increased awareness of their rights could be used for effective and efficient provision of public services in developing Asia. Institutionalizing a Social Protection Floor' (SPF) is a novel approach for empowering the people. The SPF provides universal access to a minimum level of essential services (such as health, education, housing, water and sanitation, and other services) and social transfers (in cash or in kind, to ensure income security, food security, adequate nutrition, and access to essential services). While Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen's entitlement approach' provides a framework for studying empowerment through the relationship between rights, interpersonal obligations, and individual entitlements, the SPF presents an applicable policy approach towards realizing individuals' human rights to social security and social services.

The issue of governance covers a wide spectrum ranging from political governance (relating to constitutions, political systems, and government structures), economic governance (relating to public policy and allocation of economic resources), and democratic governance (relating to people's representation, and electoral and legislative systems) at the one end to corporate and environmental governance at the other. This project will discuss the wider governance issues before narrowing its focus to economic governance, with a special emphasis on delivery of public services, which is the most potent form of government action to influence development, sustain growth, and reduce poverty.

Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy

Years of rapid growth allowed developing Asia to achieve massive strides in poverty reduction. However, it remains home to about two-thirds of the world's poor, with 1.7 billion of its population living on less than $2 a day, and 828 million struggling on less than $1.25 a day. A recent ADB study (Asian Development Outlook 2012) also shows that, despite the region's many successes, inequality in the region is rising, creating a new rich-poor social and economic divide. The earlier belief that growth would trickle down to the poor by creating jobs, producing surplus, and hence improving income distribution has been debunked. Widespread poverty and unequal income distribution necessitate public-sector intervention, a common avenue for which is provision of public services for the poor. Indeed, public spending and service delivery are the most direct means of government activity to influence development. Yet, although Asian governments spend substantial sums on public services, such expenditure often does not reach the poor while misallocations of public funds are widespread and diversion of these funds into private pockets is commonplace. Weak institutions, low level of accountability, and country-specific economic, social, political, and historical dynamics of development influence the quality of public-service delivery.

Publicly-funded schools in the region are often characterized by inadequate infrastructure, teacher absenteeism, lack of text books, and poor sanitation, resulting in low school enrolment, partial attendance and limited participation by girls. Similarly, perennial shortage of basic drugs and qualified medical personnel in public health centers and long distances to hospitals perpetuate high infant and maternal mortality rates, low life expectancy and large private out-of-pocket expenses. Likewise, poor performance of other public services such as power and water supply and subsidized food programs for the poor hinge on governance issues, often referred to as the Achilles heel, a vital weak point that can undermine overall strength of the program. Redistribution policies cannot be effective without good governance. Progressive allocation of benefits from public expenditures requires an accountable government, community participation, strong voice of the people, and competitive markets. Evidence from across the world suggests that good governance and transparent institutions spur investment, incomes, and growth. An effective and transparent government is crucial for sustained growth, enhanced welfare, and poverty reduction. In contrast, weak governance prevents the benefits of public policies from reaching the poor and contributing to growth. .

It is being increasingly recognized that higher transparency through empowerment of the people can improve the provision of public services. Empowerment gives people the rights and freedom to make decisions in matters that affect their lives, to hold others accountable for their promises, and to influence development in their communities or even in a wider region. The civil society, private sector, and media can play important roles in obtaining information, rationale, and explanations for the use of government funds. Transparency and access to information on public expenditures can reduce the capture of public funds by government officials and politicians. In the words of Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai, Inequity and power imbalances, adverse employment conditions and the lack of economic opportunities or control over assets are all manifestations of peoples' disempowerment and contribute to their poverty (Maathai, W., 2009, An African future: beyond the culture of dependency , www.opendemocracy.net/article/an-african-future-beyond-the-cultureof-dependency). Good governance is thus a prerequisite for effective public service delivery.

Good governance has been adopted as a policy by governments and development institutions alike. ADB was the first multilateral development bank to adopt a special policy on governance in 1995 (http://www.adb.org/themes/governance/overview). Over the years, supplementary policies like the Anticorruption Policy (1998) were adopted to broaden and strengthen ADB's governance work and a stock-taking exercise was conducted in 2011. ADB's Strategy 2020 identifies governance as a key driver of change. It is one of the three pillars of ADB's Poverty Reduction Strategy.

Impact The study influences the formulation and implementation of policies on public service provision in several DMCs.
Project Outcome
Description of Outcome Policy lessons derived from the study are referred to by policy makers, development practitioners, and other stakeholders.
Progress Toward Outcome
Implementation Progress
Description of Project Outputs

An edited book on Transparency for Effective Public Service Provision in Developing Asia and the Pacific

A policy report on empowering the people for effective public service delivery

..

Status of Implementation Progress (Outputs, Activities, and Issues)
Geographical Location
Summary of Environmental and Social Aspects
Environmental Aspects
Involuntary Resettlement
Indigenous Peoples
Stakeholder Communication, Participation, and Consultation
During Project Design
During Project Implementation
Business Opportunities
Consulting Services to be determined
Procurement to be determined
Responsible ADB Officer Shikha Jha
Responsible ADB Department Economic Research and Regional Cooperation Department
Responsible ADB Division ERMR
Executing Agencies
Asian Development Bank6 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong
Metro Manila, Philippines
P.O. Box 789, 1099 Manila,
Philippines
Timetable
Concept Clearance 09 Aug 2012
Fact Finding -
MRM -
Approval 01 Oct 2012
Last Review Mission -
Last PDS Update 13 Aug 2012

TA 8177-REG

Milestones
Approval Signing Date Effectivity Date Closing
Original Revised Actual
01 Oct 2012 - 01 Oct 2012 30 Jun 2014 30 Sep 2015 -
Financing Plan/TA Utilization Cumulative Disbursements
ADB Cofinancing Counterpart Total Date Amount
Gov Beneficiaries Project Sponsor Others
850,000.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 850,000.00 01 Oct 2012 534,998.55

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