in a league of their own - how all the world's governments compare
As far as can be ascertained no international body produces a league table that compares the effectiveness of governments around the world. The World Bank Governance Indicators rank 215 countries in order in 6 different disciplines - Voice and Accountability, Political Stability, Government Effectiveness, Regulatory Quality, Rule of Law, Control of Corruption - but does not give actual scores nor produce an aggregate total league table. This is shameful for this glaring omission does feckless governments no favours allowing them to escape responsibility for their inaction. It also means that people in poor countries are not being given proper support in trying to escape the yoke of poverty. So it is time to forget political posturing for poverty campaigners are not going to Poverty Made History until they openly challenge weak and apathetic governance. And in a proper international league table there can be no hiding place.
just1WORLD's league table on governance shows how national governments across the world (including Hong Kong and Taiwan) compare in terms of laying the necessary foundations for their people to advance.
Adam Smith, the father of economics, in his groundbreaking book 'An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations', published in 1776, states that there are two distinct objects of political economy: the FIRST is to enable people to provide revenue for themselves and the SECOND is to supply the country with resources for public services. In order to obtain the second, without recourse to continual borrowing, the first must be achieved.
This is what President Ronald Reagan was referring to when he stated that 'the greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things; he/she is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things'.
Giving people the tools to make the most of their lives is fundamental and there can no longer be any excuse for not doing so. For, according to former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, 'as a result of the experience of the last 50 years in global governance there is ample evidence from around the world as to what works and what doesn't. The tough part is not knowing what to do, but doing it.'
And 'doing it' is what underpinned the incredible successes of the Asian 'tigers', Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea in the last half century. However, shamefully, today far too many governments in developing countries still appear unwilling or unable to enact legislation which would lay the basis for their people to advance. Meanwhile, in the industrialised world - western governments, multilateral organisations (e.g. World Bank, IMF, etc.), international NGOs (e.g. Oxfam, Christian Aid, etc.) churches, Comic Relief and even pop stars - sit on the sidelines, looking the other way, either for fear of being accused of arrogance, racism or neo-colonialism, if they interfere, or because it is just too politically sensitive an issue. All of the above entities generously invest much time, experience and, above all, money in trying to alleviate pockets of poverty across the world but if they started to prioratise governance their efforts would sooon be seen to be supercharging development.
The No 1 priority for any government of a poor country has to be to confront 'corruption' for left unchecked it chokes progress by constantly gnawing away at the very heart of development. Corruption seriously undermines confidence in institutions, undercuts the state's ability to raise revenues, leads to higher taxes, picks people's pockets, poisons human relations, paralyses initiative, discourages investment in new enterprises, encourages dealings in the 'black market' and promotes conflict. And, as such, we make no apology for giving corruption the greatest weight in our World Governance Table.
Also important is for governments to put in place actions which will underpin business activity. This requires building up institutions, adherence to the rule of law, upholding contracts, fair and simple taxation and permitting people to own their own land. All this comes under the banner 'economic freedom' and we give this the next greatest weight in the table.
However, political rights, civil liberties and freedom of the media are also valuable and help create a virtuous circle for socio-economic progress throughout the land.
In time, adoption of the above goals will lead to the necessary revenues being generated through rising taxation for investment in schools, hospitals, welfare and infrastructure. And the cost of implementing these reforms is minimal. So governments everywhere have absolutely no excuse for not carrying through these kind of constructive reforms and failure to do so should no longer be tolerated by western governments, international financial institutions and charities.
Our world league table on governance, like the just1world 'Table of Truth' (see 'Recommendations') again uses the information contained in FOUR* respected international surveys. However, this time, we have given different weights to the four components in order to prioritise them. Firstly, as mentioned above, if any government is serious about advancing the lives of its people that government must firstly deal with the evil of corruption. Next, taking a lead and working to create a robust economy must also be a priority.
Bearing this in mind we have given 'corruption perceptions' the highest weight and have multiplied each country's score in that discipline by 4; next, encouraging 'economic freedom' is also essential so we have multiplied this score by 3; political rights/civil liberties are also important and we times this score by 2 and media freedom we leave x 1. (with these weights in place the final score for each country is the average out of 10)
WORLD GOVERNANCE TABLE
'THE GOOD, THE MODERATE, THE MEDIOCRE AND THE REPREHENSIBLE'
The table above indicates the current state of play regarding governance in all of the world's countries and where scores range from 8.78 down to 0.41 in 2015. And the average score of 5.35 in 2015, marginally up from 5.15 in 2002, shows that progress is slow and painful and falls far short of what should be expected.
It also has to be said that only 108 out of 195 states score 5.0 or more which means that 87 governments are fundamentally failing their people.
There are 19 countries scoring 8 or more and almost all of them are the usual suspects with New Zealand heading the list with 8.78/10.00 followed closely by Denmark 8.77 and Switzerland 8.74. But perhaps there is one surprise here with Bahamas scoring 8.15. Ratings then drop away to leave only a total of 28 nations with a score of 7.50 or better. And included in this list are some more Caribbean nations including Barbados 7.86, St Vincent/Grenadines 7.62 and St Lucia 7.51. A real and pleasant surprise.
Just below is Dominica with a score of 7.47, ahead of Hong Kong 7.46, France 7.38, Singapore 7.37 and Taiwan 7.31. It is noticeable here how the three countries which have made the greatest progress in the last 50 years - Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan - all have similar scores which must show that all three nations must have cracked the winning formula for fast-track development some time ago. Some other countries with notable scores registering 7 or better include Micronesia 7.23, Antigua/Barbuda 7.11, Costa Rica 7.04 and St Kitts/Nevis 7.03. And here credit should also be given to former Communist countries that have now made the transformation - Estonia 7.95, Lithuania 7.46, Poland 7.27, Czech Republic 7.22 and Slovenia 7.00.
It is also encouraging to find 2 African nations in the top 50 - Cape Verde Islands 6.94 and Mauritius 6.92 - although these island nations lie some way off the coast of Africa. Nations with scores between 6 and 7 include Samoa 6.77, South Korea 6.73, Botswana 6.70, Namibia 6.31 and Ghana 6.30 but what is Italy doing here with a score of just 6.28, down from 6.57 in 2002.
Countries with scores between 5 and 6 include South Africa 5.92, Qatar 5.78, Peru 5.49 and India 5.29. However, it is disappointing to find Greece in this list with a score of 5.61, down from 5.81 in 2002. (With both Italy and Greece scoring so lowly in this world governance table this underlines the great error of judgement made by the German government, against the wishes of the Bundesbank, to allow both these countries to join the Euro.)
Trawling below the halfway mark we find both Argentina 4.76 and Paraguay 4.70 and these governments should be questioned by their peoples as to what they are doing. However, Paraguay, at least, has made progress since 2002 and the newly-elected Macri government in Argentina may set that country on the road to recovery.
China and Russia languish even further down with scores of 3.35 and 3.20 respectively. Both of these nations can and do need to do much better than this.
23 nations score 3 or less and they represent almost an underworld, where the lack of concern by governments perpetuates people in poverty, conflict, misery and ignorance. Here, too, in this list of failed states, are to be found countries with a wealth of natural resources which are being continuously plundered by their rulers and western corporations. If the leaders of these countries were running for public office in the west they would have been voted out years ago. And it is to the shame of leaders of the world's wealthiest countries, the United Nations, the World Bank and the I M F that they have failed to confront these heinous regimes for the misery they continue to inflict on their traumatised people.
In the case of Somalia this broken state has experimented with various presidents and prime ministers to try to put this clan-ridden country back together again but all have failed to deliver. An African Union peacekeeping force is employed here to tackle the scourge of al-Shabaab but again without much success. The situation vis-a-vis Greater Somalia, too, needs addressing. Somaliland in the north has shown itself an effective unit and should surely be granted nation status. Puntland, too, seems to be making something of itself and could be given recognition. That leaves Somalia itself where warlords vie with each other for power and patronage and where unrest continually festers just below the surface. In such a situation perhaps Somalia should become a 'daughter state' of the United Nations with bureaucrats and administrators from outside of Africa, who know how to run a successful nation, brought in to share the reins of government. And they could be backed up by the current African Union troops which in turn should be bolstered by better weapons as well as advisers/instructors from western nations. Literally no expense should be spared here in the quest to forge peace.
At the same time the Central African Republic and South Sudan are shattered by internal strife with refugees in large numbers fleeing to neighbouring countries. Here, too, the UN should consider adopting the same measures to ensure that displaced people can go home to rebuild lives safe in the knowledge that the UN is going to be there both in a military and administrative capacity for as long as it takes.
No country has risen to high human development without tackling corruption and putting in place policies for generating enterprise which, in turn, will produce the seedcorn for investment in social welfare. And we in the West really need to remember this if we truly care about helping those hundreds of millions of people trapped in abject poverty. And yes that does mean forgetting about political sensitivity and being willing to withdraw support for feckless governments who are anaesthetised to their people's suffering whilst rewarding those making progress. For no one today deserves to live anywhere in squalor, grinding poverty and hopelessness whilst their leaders gorge themselves on state funds.
In the UK all schools are inspected by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) and a failing school can be placed in special measures if it is judged inadequate by inspectors. With additional support from local authorities the school is then re-appraised frequently until the school is seen to be no longer failing. In pursuit of this goal sometimes the head and teaching staff can be dismissed if they are deemed not to be up to the job. And it really is time for a template to be introduced for governments across the globe so that those leaders that are denying their people access to a better life can be exposed for what they are not doing.
But are we in the West - the United Nations, World Bank, IMF, governments, international NGOs, faith groups - up for this common-sense approach to development? Of course not. Public relations departments in all of the above will no doubt indicate that they mostly do subscribe to these ideals but we all know that it is actions that speak louder than words. And through lack of action we in the West ought to be ashamed.
Asia:- JAPAN 7.93; Hong Kong 7.46
Eastern Europe:- ESTONIA 7.95; Lithuania 7.46
South America:- CHILE 7.85; Uruguay 7.78
Central America:- COSTA RICA 7.04; Belize 6.41
Caribbean:- BAHAMAS 8.15; Barbados 7.86
Africa:- CAPE VERDE ISLANDS 6.94; Mauritius 6.92
Pacific:- MICRONESIA 7.23; Vanuatu 6.88
1. GEORGIA +1.98
4. Tonga +1.51
7. Iraq +1.32
Most relapsed nations 2015/2002:-
1. VENEZUELA -1.65
4. Bahrain -0.84
7. Syria -0.72
10. Yemen -0.69
Georgia was recently voted the No 1 economic reformer by the World Bank because in terms of the ease in doing business the country has improved from 112 to 18. In 2007 GDP per capita rose by 12%. As a result of a flat income tax rate introduced in 2004, budget revenues increased fourfold and a once large budget deficit turned into a surplus.
for POLITICAL RIGHTS/ CIVIL LIBERTIES we have used the 2 surveys produced under these headings by Freedom House and taken the average. They can be found at www.freedomhouse.org
for ECONOMIC FREEDOM we have used the annual guide published jointly by The Wall Street Journal and The Heritage Foundation, Washington's No 1 think tank. See http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking
for CORRUPTION PERCEPTIONS we have used the survey by Transparency International which is found at www.transparency.org
for MEDIA FREEDOM we have again used the survey found at www.freedomhouse.org