Three countries—Belize, Colombia, and Ghana—highlight the potential of technology and innovation to strengthen public finances
Across the world, countries are coming up with innovative solutions to strengthen public finances, improve accountability and transparency in the public sector, and even generate cash for conservation. Three case studies highlight these novel policy approaches, which could hold lessons for other countries.
In Belize, a debt-for-nature swap has cut the Caribbean country’s stock of external debt by a striking 10 percent of GDP and is generating cash for conservation to protect the longest coral reef in the Western Hemisphere. There is scope for similar swaps to fund conservation or climate work in other countries with expensive debt on their books.
Transparency organizations, meanwhile, are using open-source technologies to publicize undeclared conflicts of interest by public officials in Colombia. This data can be used by Colombia’s watchdog, the Office of the Comptroller General, to investigate corruption, and by companies that want to avoid reputational risk.
And in West Africa, Ghana is turning to technology to improve access to public services and expand its revenue base. The authorities are consolidating a database of taxpayers, establishing a digital address system, and tapping a fast-growing mobile money system to bring more people into the tax system. So far 15.5 million people have signed up for an official digital ID, and most of the adult population could be covered by the end of this year.