General Discussion

Laura Wallace
Published Date:
January 1999
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Capacity Building and Good Governance

Godfrey Simasiku of Zambia opened the brief discussion by seconding Reinold van Til’s comment that some functions of government were best reformed from without. The revenue authority in Zambia was a good example. After being separated from the government, revenue had tripled, enabling the government to finance a number of projects. A similar success story was the now independent export board, helping nontraditional exports to triple in a short period of time.

This sentiment was shared by Gray Mgonja of Tanzania, who felt it was best to reform the civil service by spinning off some of the functions, rather than the traditional approach of retrenchment. This worked because it automatically reduced the size of the government, and in the process, redefined the function of the government.

Jan Cedergren of Sweden, with a donor point of view, agreed with Kwesi Botchwey’s observation that capacity building programs tended to run into trouble because of lack of ownership. Calls for a better dialogue between the private and public sectors, for more information and better transparency, and for better credibility and trust in policies were really calls for improved ownership of the economic reform program. Indeed, this was a central message of the recent external evaluation of the ESAF and the external evaluation of the World Bank’s Special Program of Assistance for Africa.

Piero Ugolini, picking up on Botchwey’s comment that a lot of countries speak quite favorably of IMF-UNDP technical assistance projects, suggested that a key reason why was because these projects take a global approach—modernizing the central bank in several areas at once. So far, this approach has primarily been tried in Eastern Europe, but there have been two such projects in Africa, one in Namibia, and on a larger scale, in Zambia. His one note of caution, however, was that it “takes two to tango”; the recipient country will have to be willing to move ahead on several fronts at once.

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