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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Attn Bob Schieffer: Three Serious Questions to Throw Obama and Romney Off Kilter

From Big Bird to malarkey to binders full of women, it’s been quite the presidential debate series (there was also that whole dramatic shift in the momentum of the race thing).

On Monday, we’ll hear from President Obama and Governor Romney for 1.5 Bob Schieffer-moderated hours on foreign policy. The topics have already been announced, and while it’s possible some development-related questions could come up (mostly likely under the basket of America’s role in the world), the odds aren’t great. Regardless, here are three questions that I’d like to hear the candidates answer.

Can’t HiPoPoDomAe and Donuts Just Get Along?

I got to be part of a panel yesterday at the UN, grandly titled “Conceptualizing a Set of Sustainable Development Goals - A Special Event of the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly.” I was excited to be there not just because of the location and topic, but also because of considerable respect for the rest of the panel, including Andrew Revkin of the NYT Dot Earth blog, WRI’s Manish Bapna and Oxfam’s Kate Raworth.

Taxing Kenya’s M-Pesa Picks the Pockets of the Poor

Kenya has instituted a new tax that affects users of M-Pesa -- a widely popular phone-based money transfer service used by more than half of Kenya’s adult population. The new 10 percent excise duty on fees charged for money transfer services applies to mobile phone providers, banks, and other money transfer agencies. Operated by Safaricom, the largest mobile network operator in Kenya, M-Pesa accounts for the largest share of users of money transfer services. Users of M-Pesa products will therefore bear most of the impact of the tax.

“No One Gets Past a Raptor” The 2012 Biometrics Consortium Conference: Tampa

Even with global sales around $5 billion, the biometrics industry is surprisingly clubby.  Most participants at the 2012 Biometrics Consortium Conference I attended recently seemed to know each other.  Most were from the US, but some  came from Europe, and from India and other developing countries.  Their backgrounds were diverse:  academics, entrepreneurs, engineers, lawyers, police, security and military personnel. And, of course, sales departments!

The 2012 Commitment to Development Index

This post is coauthored with Julia Clark. You can listen to the pre-release podcast with David Roodman and Owen Barder.

We're proud to announce the release of the tenth edition of the Commitment to Development Index. Each year since 2003, the CDI has ranked wealthy nations on how much their governments' policies and actions support global prosperity. Nations are linked in many ways: through trade, aid, climate, technology, and more. The CDI assesses policies in all these areas in order to communicate that helping takes more than aid, and to organize a comprehensive agenda for development policy.

Identification for Development, US Election Edition

This is a joint post with Julia Clark

On the surface, it’s hard to see how requiring a photo ID for elections could be problematic. What’s the big deal? Nearly everyone we know has at least one photo ID—a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. Plus, preventing double or illegitimate voting is a favorable goal in any democracy. Who could argue with a law that promises to protect electoral integrity?

Recognizing and Rewarding the Best Development Professionals

This blog post is co-authored with Martin Ravallion, who has been the Director of the World Bank’s Development Economics Research Group for several years and is currently Acting Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of the Bank. The blog is cross-posted on the World Bank site here.

These days there is a lot of discussion within development organizations and governments across the globe (including the World Bank) about how to assure a greater emphasis on development impact. It would no doubt help if senior management gave stronger verbal signals on the ultimate goals of the institution, and more actively supported staff to attain those goals. But such “low-powered incentives” have been tried before, and the problems seem to persist.

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