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Showing posts for "Sub-Saharan Africa"

Nigeria’s 2016 Budget Continues Use of Secretive ‘Security Votes’

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil

In a post originally published on African Arguments, CFR International Affairs Fellow Matthew Page explains that despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s anticorruption progress, the government’s new budget includes allocations for opaque funds that often go missing.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Egypt’s Backsliding, UK Transparency Setbacks, New Global Rankings

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Members of security forces keep watch in Tahrir Square before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany). Members of security forces keep watch in Tahrir Square before the fifth anniversary of the January 25 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt, January 24, 2016 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany).

United States Undeterred by Egypt’s Democratic Backsliding
Five years after its revolution, Egypt is no closer to democracy. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government routinely arrests political and social media activists, and has detained tens of thousands of people, many held for months without charges. Raids on news outlets and a law prohibiting journalists from contradicting official government information undermine freedom of expression. Every opposition party boycotted fall 2015 legislative elections and less than a third of the population turned out to vote. Still, the United States seems to be choosing stability over political freedoms. President Obama restored $1.3 billion in annual military assistance cut after Sisi overthrew former president Mohamed Morsi in 2013. And Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director John Brennan recently visited Cairo to boost security and counterterrorism cooperation, congratulating Sisi on inaugurating a new parliament.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Corruption in Iran, Africa, and Mexico

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Humberto Moreira, a former ally of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and his lawyer Ulrich Richter (L) leave the Soto del Real penitentiary outside Madrid, Spain, January 22, 2016 (Reuters/Susana Vera). Humberto Moreira, a former ally of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and his lawyer Ulrich Richter (L) leave the Soto del Real penitentiary outside Madrid, Spain, January 22, 2016 (Reuters/Susana Vera).

Iran’s Sanction Are Gone, but Not Its Corruption

Corruption presents a huge hurdle for Iran. It ranks 136 out of 175 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, and 118 of 189 in the World Bank’s Doing Business report. Despite earning $650 billion in oil profits over the last eight years, billions went missing, and little found its way into public goods such as infrastructure. Still, as international sanctions lift, European and Asian companies including Daimler, Airbus, Total, Eni, and Statoil have or are considering ventures. The UK government even published a guide on doing business in Iran, noting the prevalence of customs that violate its Bribery Act.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Energy Subsidies, Human Rights in Supply Chains, and Poland’s Democracy Rollback

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A driver waits to fill his car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 22, 2015 (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser). A driver waits to fill his car with fuel at a petrol station in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, December 22, 2015 (Reuters/Faisal Al Nasser).

Oil Prices Plummet—Will Subsidies Follow?
As crude prices fall below $30 a barrel, oil-producing states face mounting fiscal challenges. Saudi Arabia’s 2015 deficit neared $100 billion, roughly 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP);Venezuela’s reached 14 percent; and Algeria expects foreign reserves to fall by $30 billion in the coming year to cover its looming fiscal gap. Across commodity-dependent nations finance ministers are looking to cut budgets. Energy subsidies are an obvious target, as these expensive and inefficient payments distort markets and undermine development. In December, Saudi Arabia reduced fuel subsidies and prices went up 50 percent. Algeria promised to cut energy subsidies (though in the short term, they are rising). Even in Venezuela, where citizens pay less for gas than water, rumors are the government is considering a hike. The hesitation? Price increases during recessions don’t go over well; in Venezuela, the unpopular move helped bring Hugo Chavez to power.

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Trade, Anticorruption, and Elections at the Start of 2016

by Shannon K. O'Neil
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (3rd L) makes remarks at a news conference to announce a law enforcement action relating to FIFA, as (L-R) Assistant U. S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York Evan Norris, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert Capers, FBI Assistant Director New York Field Office Diego Rodriguez, IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Richard Webber and IRS Special Agent in Charge of Los Angeles Field Office Erick Martinez listen, in Washington, December 3, 2015. Officials Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout have been arrested by Swiss authorities in the ongoing soccer scandal (Reuters/Mike Theiler). U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch (3rd L) makes remarks at a news conference to announce a law enforcement action relating to FIFA, as (L-R) Assistant U. S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York Evan Norris, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Robert Capers, FBI Assistant Director New York Field Office Diego Rodriguez, IRS Criminal Investigation Chief Richard Webber and IRS Special Agent in Charge of Los Angeles Field Office Erick Martinez listen, in Washington, December 3, 2015. Officials Alfredo Hawit and Juan Angel Napout have been arrested by Swiss authorities in the ongoing soccer scandal (Reuters/Mike Theiler).

As a new year begins, trade is slower, the drive against corruption continues, and electoral struggles shape fragile democracies. Here are three issues the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) program will be following in 2016:

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: Modi’s Reform Agenda, the WTO, and 2015 UN Development Report

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A labourer pushes a handcart loaded with sacks containing tea packets, towards a supply truck at a wholesale market in Kolkata, India, June 26, 2015. For years Indian businesses have lobbied for a nationwide sales tax, hoping to replace a chaotic structure that inflates costs and halts their trucks at state borders for duty payments, and to unify the country into one of the world's largest single markets. But after political compromises that finally got a goods and services tax (GST) bill before parliament, they have turned wary (Reuters/De Chowdhuri). A labourer pushes a handcart loaded with sacks containing tea packets, towards a supply truck at a wholesale market in Kolkata, India, June 26, 2015. For years Indian businesses have lobbied for a nationwide sales tax, hoping to replace a chaotic structure that inflates costs and halts their trucks at state borders for duty payments, and to unify the country into one of the world's largest single markets. But after political compromises that finally got a goods and services tax (GST) bill before parliament, they have turned wary (Reuters/De Chowdhuri).

Modi’s Reforms at Odds
A senior official in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is pushing a corruption probe that threatens to derail his own party’s Goods and Services Tax (GST). A linchpin of Modi’s economic platform, the reform would replace numerous local and state taxes with a single nation-wide tax. The government expects GST to boost government revenue, attract foreign investment, and add up to two percent to GDP. With the corruption case’s targets—opposition Congress Party leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi—denouncing the investigation as politically motivated, the fallout will likely halt Modi’s tax reform in India’s opposition-led upper house. As the Gandhi case advances, the GST may not, putting Modi’s ambitious pro-business and anticorruption agendas at odds.

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: International Anticorruption Day, Corruption in Ukraine, and Elections in Venezuela

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015. Venezuela's opposition won control of the legislature from the ruling Socialists for the first time in 16 years on Sunday, giving them a long-sought platform to challenge President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins). Lilian Tintori (centre L), wife of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, celebrates next to candidates of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD) during a news conference on the election in Caracas early December 7, 2015. Venezuela's opposition won control of the legislature from the ruling Socialists for the first time in 16 years on Sunday, giving them a long-sought platform to challenge President Nicolas Maduro (Reuters/Carlos Garcia Rawlins).

International Anticorruption Day
December 9 marked the United Nations’ thirteenth annual International Anticorruption Day, offering a chance to reflect on global anticorruption efforts this year—from successful antigraft cases to ongoing challenges fighting high-level theft. In commemoration, here’s what we’ve been reading:

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Five Questions with Elmira Bayrasli

by Guest Blogger for Shannon K. O'Neil
Software developers work on computer sytems at the Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA) hub in the Yaba district in Lagos June 25, 2015. At first glance, Yaba is like many other parts of Nigeria's sprawling commercial capital: a cacophony of car horns and shouting street vendors, mingling with exhaust fumes and the occasional stench of sewage. But in between the run-down buildings in this seemingly inauspicious part of Lagos, a city of around 21 million, tech start-ups are taking root and creating a buzz that is drawing international venture capitalists and more established digital firms. (Reuters/Akinleye) Software developers work on computer sytems at the Information Technology Developers Entrepreneurship Accelerator (iDEA) hub in the Yaba district in Lagos June 25, 2015. At first glance, Yaba is like many other parts of Nigeria's sprawling commercial capital: a cacophony of car horns and shouting street vendors, mingling with exhaust fumes and the occasional stench of sewage. But in between the run-down buildings in this seemingly inauspicious part of Lagos, a city of around 21 million, tech start-ups are taking root and creating a buzz that is drawing international venture capitalists and more established digital firms. (Reuters/Akinleye)

Emerging Voices highlights new research, thinking, and approaches to development challenges from contributing scholars and practitioners. This post features Elmira Bayrasli, the co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted and a lecturer at New York University.

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This Week in Markets in Democracy: Election in India, Kenyan Corruption, End of BRICS

by Shannon K. O'Neil
Supporters of Janata Dal (United) celebrate after learning the initial results outside the party office in New Delhi, India, November 8, 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was heading for a heavy defeat on Sunday in a key election in India's third most populous state Bihar, signalling the waning power of a leader who until recently had an unrivalled reputation as a vote winner. Modi's second straight state election setback will galvanise opposition parties, embolden rivals in his own party and diminish his standing with foreign leaders amid concern he may not win a second term as prime minister (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee). Supporters of Janata Dal (United) celebrate after learning the initial results outside the party office in New Delhi, India, November 8, 2015. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was heading for a heavy defeat on Sunday in a key election in India's third most populous state Bihar, signalling the waning power of a leader who until recently had an unrivalled reputation as a vote winner. Modi's second straight state election setback will galvanise opposition parties, embolden rivals in his own party and diminish his standing with foreign leaders amid concern he may not win a second term as prime minister (Reuters/Anindito Mukherjee).

CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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This Week in Markets and Democracy: The Americas’ Refugee Crisis, Impunity in Journalist Attacks, and More

by Shannon K. O'Neil
A Salvadoran immigrant carries her son while standing in vegetation to hide from organized crime bands in Huehuetoca, near Mexico City, June 1, 2015. An increasing number of Central Americans are sneaking across Mexico's border en route to the United States (Reuters/Edgard Garrido). A Salvadoran immigrant carries her son while standing in vegetation to hide from organized crime bands in Huehuetoca, near Mexico City, June 1, 2015. An increasing number of Central Americans are sneaking across Mexico's border en route to the United States (Reuters/Edgard Garrido).
CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy (CSMD) Program highlights noteworthy events and articles each Friday in “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” 

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