Development in transition

By Alicia Barcena, Stefano Manservisi and Mario Pezzini

3Understanding and supporting the development trajectories of countries have long been the driving force behind all of our careers. If we, as a global community, are serious now about ensuring prosperity for all through the universal and comprehensive 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), then we must close all remaining gaps. And this means changing the way we think about development policy.

We can all agree we should continue to focus primarily on those left the furthest behind. However pockets of fragility also remain in those economies that have succeeded in climbing the economic ladder. While income inequality between countries may have reduced, inequality within countries has in fact risen. More than 75% of people in developing countries are living in societies where inequalities are higher today than they were 25 years ago. In Namibia, for example, which is considered an upper middle-income country, just over a quarter of its poorest inhabitants are covered by social protections, whereas Malawi, considered a low-income country, covers over 40%.

Continue reading

Development Finance 2.0: Improving Conditions for Local Currency Financing

By Harald Hirschhofer, Senior Advisor, TCX 1 

Development-Finance-shutterstock_524218915Achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require very large investments measured in the trillions until 2030. To mobilise such amounts, policy makers try to crowd-in the private sector, its financial resources and its entrepreneurial creativity. But private sector engagement will not happen if risk-adjusted returns are perceived to be unattractive. While telecom and mobile banking have shown that achieving development goals also means good business, perceived risks in most other sectors and countries are still too high for expected economic returns.

That is why donors, recipients and development banks have been developing programs to lower and share risks, including policy and structural reform, technical assistance and information sharing, and providing financial de-risking instruments. Especially in situations where private investors perceive risks as higher than they actually are, such de-risking measures can be impactful in catalysing private investment flows. Accordingly, development finance institutions (DFIs) are expanding their focus from mere funding to blending risk tolerant donor funds with commercial capital to offer de-risking services and support for (perceived) high risk activities.

Continue reading

Fiscal space in developing countries: It’s about revenues

By Alexander Pick, Fiscal economist, OECD Development Centre

planting-moneyFiscal space is big right now. It was an important part of the OECD’s policy prescriptions in last year’s Economic Outlook and was high on the World Bank President’s agenda at this year’s Spring Meetings in Washington. It also featured in discussions at the 2017 Forum on Financing for Development in May. Yet the term has a different meaning depending on whether it is applied to a developed or a developing country, and it doesn’t appear to resonate with policy makers at a national level.

So what does fiscal space mean for developed economies? The OECD and IMF view the concept in terms of long-term debt sustainability. By this approach, fiscal space is interpreted as the distance between actual debt levels and a theoretical higher level of debt that is nonetheless safe. Fiscal space suggests how much wiggle-room national governments have to increase growth-enhancing spending, such as infrastructure investment, without raising taxes. This is important in the current context of a sluggish global economy where monetary policy has done all it can to support growth and the pressure is thus on fiscal policy and structural reform to propel the recovery.

Continue reading

Making aid RANDy

By Simon Scott, Counsellor, OECD Statistics Directorate

rand
Entrance to the RAND headquarters in Santa Monica in 1968 (photo courtesy of the RAND Corporation)

It was the go-to think tank for the US Department of Defense during the Cold War. It was where Nathan Leites deciphered The Operational Code of the Politburo and Paul Baran conceived the “hot potato routing” system that would lead to the Internet.

But the RAND Corporation, spun off from an Air Force project with the Douglas Aircraft company to do Research ANd Development on intercontinental warfare, was active across the whole field of international relations. And at the height of East-West tensions during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, DoD contract number ARPA/SD-79 had it investigating … a better way to measure foreign aid.

Up until that time, all official flows from rich to poor countries had been summed up indiscriminately, whether they were grants or loans, and whether or not they targeted development. John Pincus of RAND came up with a new idea – get rid of the non-developmental aspects and “reformulate the definition of aid [so that] all forms of aid are reduced to their value as grant or subsidy.”

Continue reading

Wanted: mechanism for additionality

By Paddy Carter, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

development-financeAdditionality is the thorn in the side of Development Finance Institutions (DFIs). It means: making an investment happen that would not have otherwise. Of course, everybody in development wants to make things happen that would not otherwise, and the possibility that aid substitutes for domestic efforts is a concern in other contexts. But additionality torments DFIs because of the constant suspicion that they crowd out private financiers by investing in products that would have been viable without public support.

DFIs are regularly called upon to provide rigorous evidence that their investments are additional. Rigorous quantitative evidence, in the eyes of academics, requires some credible method of estimating the counterfactual (what would have happened otherwise). And that requires something like a randomised control trial or a natural experiment or a valid instrumental variable. Yet, none of these is feasible in the world of DFIs. And without that, we are unable to distinguish correlation from causation.
Continue reading

Aid rising in 2016: No room for complacency

Charlotte Petri Gornitzka, Chair, OECD Development Assistance Committee
Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director, Development Co-operation Directorate, OECD

oda generic 22015 was a year of big promises: eradication of global poverty, delivery of more effective development finance and calls for resolute action against climate change, all for a better world by 2030. But with growing concerns about inequalities at home, and rising protectionism and unilateralism abroad, the last few months cast some doubts about whether OECD countries still firmly stand behind their commitments.

The latest OECD figures on international aid are reassuring: 2016 preliminary data on Official Development Assistance (ODA) provided by OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) countries reveals yet another increase in aid volumes, reaching the highest levels on record. This is an 8.9% increase in real terms. Indeed, since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000, ODA volumes have more than doubled. It is also positive to note that support to multilateral agencies has increased, reflecting the vital role played by multilateral aid in responding to the global challenges that require collective responsibility.

Yet, there is no room for complacency. A closer scrutiny of the increases reveals that humanitarian appeals and response plans remain consistently underfunded, with only 60% of global humanitarian appeals funded in 2016. Inadequate resources are being over-stretched to cover a larger diversity of needs and greater instances of crisis. Continue reading

Broadening financing options for infrastructure in Emerging Asia

BannerForumAsiaMobile_EN

By Kensuke Tanaka, Head of Asia Desk, and Prasiwi Ibrahim, Economist at Asia Desk, OECD Development Centre 


Learn more about this timely topic at the upcoming
1st International Economic Forum on Asia
Register today to attend on 14 April 2017!


Kensuke-Prasiwi-AsiaForumAgreeing on the need for new infrastructure is one thing; finding a sustainable way to finance it is another. According to the ADB, an estimated USD 26 trillion (or USD 1.7 trillion per year) will need to be invested in infrastructure in its developing member countries1  between 2016 and 2030 if these economies are to maintain their growth momentum, eradicate poverty and respond to climate change2  .Given the scale of investment needed, countries in the region will not have sufficient funds to meet demand. Indeed, financing infrastructure investment has been a considerable challenge for the region. Political factors can further complicate financing when they lead to the inefficient allocation of public funds. How best to finance infrastructure is, therefore, a key concern for policy makers in the region.
Continue reading