“Good governance” is a term that has become a part of the vernacular of a large range of development institutions and other actors within the international arena. Almost all major development institutions today promote good governance as an important part of their agendas. In a well-cited quote, former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan noted that “good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development”. Good governance is about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions.
Good governance is not restricted to taking of steps and initiatives by the governments in improving governance rather it includes equal participation of the people in order to suggest improvements and help in efficient and effective functioning of the governance system. One of the leading principles in this regard is to secure the trust of the people in government’s ability to ensure service delivery with the cooperation of the people at large. As a first step, availability of information about how the system works and what are the processes being adopted to ensure prompt and transparent transactions of business in an organization are required to be made public and easy to understand with an inbuilt ability of self-redressal of complaints. This gap can be narrowed down by taking on board the respective stakeholders or their representatives at the time of appraisal of performance of an organization which directly relates to them.
The quality of decision is directly proportional to how much and in what way quality input of the stakeholders has been gathered in order to get it readily accepted by the people and create ownership in the long run and thereby enabling the system to respond in a natural way.
Good governance leads to a number of positive consequences, including:
- People’s trust
- Enhanced ownership
- Quality decision valued by the people
- Ability to face crises
- Financial stability
Implications of Good Governance
The future of a nation lies in good governance depicting regard for environmental management, equity and sustainable development. With present state of affairs that promotes provision of service to only the influential and the powerful, interpreting the regulations for personal advantages, spending with distorted priorities away from poor strata of society inhibits economic and social development. A remarkable shift from archaic mindset is required to secure the future of a nation.
Why Public Sector Reform?
We are witnessing a continuous wave of change of events in world affairs and one such wave is of globalization which has necessitated conformity in the overall system of governance in order to bring it at par with others or at least with ability to respond to them in a befitting manner. The realization of this approach requires adding momentum to reform processes, management practices, legislation and avoiding political interferences, nepotism, poor utilization of resources, lack of rewards and recognition and poor working conditions.
We need a new paradigm of governance that should speak not only to the government of, but also to governance in, the society. The public service must be a catalyst for change, and it is essential that public sector reforms are far beyond usual. Civil society must also be strengthened as a critical part of the governance structure. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs), single-interest groups, faith-based organizations and community-based groups should be given important roles to play in the governance of our society which must be characterized by higher levels of self-reliance, less dependence on the state and greater diversity and tolerance.
Creating the Conditions for Good Governance
Given the characteristics of good governance, its implications and also its relevance to the public sector reform within developing countries, governments must create and sustain the conditions necessary for good governance within their respective territories.
Conditions for Good Governance
- Creation of necessary conditions conducive to freedom of institutions that strive to ensure broad range of basic human needs.
- Removing unnecessary hurdles in the form of excessive regulations for better participation.
- Smart financial management.
- Strategic vision to ensure ever-increasing demand for better and responsive service delivery by enhancing infrastructural capabilities of the organizations.
- Imparting training to public officers and bringing them in conformity with modern techniques and best practices.
- No room for private incentives through nepotism, corruption and patronage of vested interests groups.
- Accountability of civil servants to ensure that the power delegated to them, through the laws and regulations, is utilized as per given standards and procedures.
Good Governance Definitions
In the 1992 report entitled “Governance and Development”, the World Bank set out its definition of good governance. This term is defined as “the manner in which power is exercised in the management of a country’s economic and social resources for development”.
The United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) definition of good governance is set out in a 1997 UNDP policy document entitled “Governance for Sustainable Human Development”. The document states that governance can be seen as the exercise of economic, political and administrative authority to manage a country’s affairs at all levels.