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DEVELOPMENT REPORT – World Bank Calls for Better Public Services - 2003-09-28

Broadcast: September 29, 2003

This is Robert Cohen with the VOA Special English Development Report.

The World Bank says the poor quality of public services in developing countries is hurting world economic growth. This finding is based on a year of study of successes and failures involving services in different countries.

The World Bank says better services would reduce the divide between rich and poor people. This means better health care, education, electricity, water and waste treatment services.

The main message of the World Bank report is “Making Services Work for the Poor.” The report proposes three steps to improve public services.

First is the suggestion that poor people be given more choice and involvement in the services provided. The report says poor people should be empowered to demand better services by putting pressure on elected politicians.

And the report calls for a system to reward or punish service providers. The World Bank says that through this system, service providers would have to answer to the government and to the public.

The report was released last week before the yearly meeting of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Officials from more than one-hundred-eighty nations gathered in Dubai. The delegates discussed a number of issues during the two-day meeting.

These included efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals. One goal is to cut world poverty in half by two-thousand-fifteen. That is the same goal for the number of people who cannot read or write.

In addition to improving services, many people believe an important way to help developing nations is to increase trade with richer ones. Two years ago, in Doha, Qatar, the World Trade Organization agreed to begin a new series of negotiations to reduce trade barriers. Member nations agreed to work for completion by two-thousand-five.

The latest talks, however, ended in disagreement earlier this month in Cancun, Mexico. Delegates argued over aid to farmers in wealthy countries.

Some delegates walked out of the meetings. They said wealthy counties were not making enough compromises to help poor nations. They say development problems in the poorest countries are likely to continue until the issue of trade barriers is solved. A high-level WTO meeting is planned in Geneva by December fifteenth.

This VOA Special English Development Report was written by Jill Moss. I'm Robert Cohen.