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Philippe Le Houérou at the WEF. Photo by World Economic Forum / Jakob Polacsek

Aid Transparency and Subsidies to Private Companies: A First Step, But a Long Road Ahead

Today the IFC announced a step forward in its transparency around the use of aid resources to finance private companies. That’s right and proper: When scarce aid, and scarce tax resources, are used to support private firms, citizens of donor countries and recipient countries alike have a right to know where the money is going to and how generous the terms. A number of us at CGD had been calling for greater transparency around subsidies to the private sector from the IFC and other development finance institutions, so this is a welcome first step. However, a few aspects have might be cause for concern.

The World Bank Gets Open

The World Bank has responded to concerns about its recent agreement with Google with a welcome announcement that it will only support mapping collaborations which make crowd-sourced data publicly available – and that means not collaborating this way with Google.

Don't Be Evil (World Bank & Google Edition)

This post first appeared on Owen Abroad, along with a list of suggested further readings. Please post any comments on the original version.

I am a generally a fan of both the World Bank and of Google, but we should all be worried about their recent deal.

The intention is good: it is to promote crowd-sourcing of maps, to improve planning in disasters and to improve the planning, management and monitoring of public services. This is an important goal, which is now being made possible by new technologies and the spread of the internet. The deal is sufficiently important for World Bank Managing Director Caroline Anstey to write about it in the opinion pages of the New York Times:

B-Span and a Broader Vision of Public Information from the World Bank

This is a joint post with Michele de Nevers.

The World Bank’s expanding public information mandate is the focus of Stephanie Strom’s excellent article in Saturday’s New York Times. During Robert Zoellick’s tenure as the Bank’s president, he has promoted free public access to databases that formerly required a paid subscription, such as the World Development Indicators, or were simply unavailable (such as detailed information on the location, design, objectives and performance of Bank projects). We have no doubt that this excellent initiative will be a boon to development analysts and scholars worldwide.