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Feature
July 11, 2007

National Governance Little Better
Countries around the world, including some of the poorest in Africa, have made “significant progress” in improving governance and fighting corruption over the decade, the new “Worldwide Governance Indicators” (WGI) report by the World Bank Institute and World Bank Development Economics Vice-presidency shows.

Significant improvements in governance over the past decade occurred in countries as diverse as Indonesia, Tajikistan, Serbia, and Slovakia.  And in Africa in particular, countries such as Niger, Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Tanzania, and Rwanda showed significant improvements in some dimensions of governance since 1998.  Even over the relatively short period since 2002, there have been big improvements in some aspects of governance in countries such as Liberia, Angola, Argentina, and Georgia.

However, other countries have regressed and the picture, overall, is indifferent at best. WBI says research has shown the importance of good governance for aid effectiveness in general, and for the success or failure of World Bank projects in particular.

The full WGI volume, called “Governance Matters VI,” shows how the six aggregate indicators are constructed. They are based on 33  individual data sources and hundreds of variables, capturing the views on governance of tens of thousands household and firm survey respondents, as well as hundreds of nongovernment organizations and public sector experts, and commercial business information providers worldwide.

The indicators measure Voice and Accountability, Political Stability and Absence of Major Violence and Terror, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality Rule of Law, and Control of Corruption. It is clear where ASEAN states will figure poorly in this list of factors. Lack of accountability in Thailand, Myanmar and Laos, for example, has become a significant factor, while other countries offer only limited or ‘guided’ forms of democracy – as the figures for Singapore reveal.

The figures for control of corruption reveal that Singapore fares best in the region, followed by Malaysia and Brunei. The worst is, not surprisingly, Myanmar, with Cambodia also faring poorly.

 
Country Sources Year Percentile Rank
(0-100)
Governance Score
(-2.5 to +2.5)
Standard Error
   
BRUNEI
2
2006 63.6 +0.24 0.33
CAMBODIA
10
2006 7.3 -1.19 0.17
INDONESIA
17
2006 23.3 -0.77 0.13
LAOS
9
2006 13.1 -1.05 0.19
MALAYSIA
15
2006 68.0 +0.38 0.13
MYANMAR
6
2006 1.0 -1.68 0.22
PHILIPPINES
16
2006 27.2 -0.69 0.13
SINGAPORE
12
2006 98.1 +2.30 0.14
THAILAND
15
2006 50.5 -0.26 0.13
VIETNAM
15
2006 29.1 -0.66 0.15

(Source: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi2007/mc_chart.asp).

The figures for regulatory quality offer a similar picture:

Country Sources Year Percentile Rank
(0-100)
Governance Score
(-2.5 to +2.5)
Standard Error
   
BRUNEI
2
2006 80.0 +0.96 0.30
CAMBODIA
9
2006 26.8 -0.63 0.20
INDONESIA
12
2006 43.4 -0.26 0.17
LAOS
9
2006 14.1 -1.09 0.20
MALAYSIA
11
2006 69.8 +0.67 0.18
MYANMAR
8
2006 1.0 -2.24 0.21
PHILIPPINES
11
2006 52.2 -0.06 0.18
SINGAPORE
9
2006 99.5 +1.85 0.19
THAILAND
11
2006 62.4 +0.37 0.18
VIETNAM
11
2006 31.2 -0.49 0.18

(Source: http://info.worldbank.org/governance/wgi2007/mc_chart.asp).

Despite the rapid improvements in the attractiveness of Vietnam, it still ranks quite low according to these indicators and it shows just how badly the Thai interim government has performed that investors would prefer to relocate to the east.

The full text of the press release and access to the data are available at: http://web.worldbank.org/WBSITE/EXTERNAL/NEWS/0,,contentMDK:21402561~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html.

 

 

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