Governments need to regain citizens’ trust: OECD chief

May 22nd, 2012 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Paris, May 22 (IANS) The biggest challenge for governments today is to regain the trust of their citizens in the wake of the global financial crisis, Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secretary general Angel Gurria Monday said on the eve of the annual gathering of the grouping of 30 developed countries.

The OECD Forum, which sees participation of leaders from leading developing economies as well, including the BRICS nations, opened its two-day session here Tuesday. There will also be a meeting of commerce ministers of leading developed and developing nations, along with World Trade Organisation chief Pascal Lamy, in an effort to resuscitate the stalled Doha Round of negotiations.

In an exclusive piece for Media India Group, Gurria explained why gaining the trust of citizens is crucial to good governance and why sound institutions make a difference for effective economic policies.

“The global crisis and its aftermath have seriously challenged the relationship between citizens and government. The public finances are in a perilous state in many countries, unemployment is still stubbornly high, and the recovery has been in general slow and fragile. In parallel, income inequality has soared, with the gap between rich and poor reaching its highest level for over 30 years among OECD countries. Against this backdrop, people are taking to the streets: the indignados in Spain, the Occupy Wall Street Movement in the United States and the March for Jobs in the United Kingdom are just a few alarm bells for change that are resonating around the world,” Gurria said.

In this context, Gurria, who has been heading the OECD since June 2006, noted that some governments and central banks have taken bold action at the national and international levels to regain the trust of their citizens. “They have adopted supportive macroeconomic policies to buttress activity during the recession, they have committed to consolidation to restore the sustainability of the public finances, where needed, and they have embarked on structural reform programmes to revive the growth potential of their economies,” he said in the article which will be published in a special issue of Biz@India magazine, a pan-EU business magazine on India.

At the same time, it would not be a cakewalk for the governments, Gurria cautioned.

Another issue to be tackled is the financing of political parties, which has long been a taboo and is perhaps the area that has received the least attention and analysis. It has often been argued that political party financing is so closely tied to specific political, administrative or cultural contexts that it is impossible to identify good practice. Yet, financing of democracy is a crucial element in the trust equation, Gurria contended.

(Ranvir Nayar can be contacted at ranvir.mediaindia@gmail.com)

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