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CGD and the Centre for Finance and Development are teaming up to bring together international finance practitioners who are thinking about how to marry public and private international financing for development (so-called blended finance) and researchers who are rethinking government strategies to encourage private activity in sectors viewed as key to economic development (known as the new industrial policy).
Since the 2015 financing for development agreement, donor governments and their development finance institutions have all been singing from the same hymn sheet: we must do more to mobilize private investment. Here I will argue that setting leverage targets in isolation might not get us what we want: more investment in developing countries. Overall investment volumes in chosen markets may make a better target, but any incentives must be soft to minimize the temptation to put public money where it is not needed.
Public-Private Partnership models continue to proliferate, backed by multilateral development banks old and new. But the volume of PPPs in developing countries has stagnated since the global financial crisis, and they won’t deliver unless they are designed and implemented well. Making more and better public-private investments will take a far greater commitment to transparency from participants in the deals. Financiers—MDBs in particular—should take the lead.
As global decision makers meet in Davos, one of the top agenda items should be how to mobilize more private finance to fund the Sustainable Development Goals—particularly how to strengthen the role of one of the most important tools of the international community: the multilateral development banks.
Development finance institutions (DFIs) have long resisted the idea that they ought to support coordinated national development strategies in the countries that they invest in, but if conversations around private roundtables at the recent World Bank/IMF meetings are anything to go by, that’s where they may be heading. And if so, it may be the private sector itself that leads them there.
There are arguments for and against “spending through the tax system.” On one hand tax incentives are relatively easy to implement; they don’t require an outlay of cash and they make use of information that revenue agencies already collect. But on the other, loading the tax system with too many policy objectives conflicts with the drive for a coherent, simple, transparent tax system. Despite decades of advice from international organisations to curtail tax incentives, they remain a popular tool for governments.