1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, defined by the World Bank as less than 1.25 USD per day. Economic structures often worsen the situation for these people. Repayment of illegitimate debt, tax evasion, capital flight, corruption and irresponsible corporate behavior all steal resources from the welfare state and the creation of national values in countries with widespread poverty.
Often, the revenue of the national treasury is far lower than the natural resources and economic activity in a country would indicate. At the same time, there is often misuse of budget resources, so that the limited revenues that do exist are not used in an effective way for the provision of public welfare services.
Openness and accountability
Norwegian Church Aid and our partners have programs designed to address these problems. We wish to contribute to greater openness and accountability in the utilisation and creation of public financial resources. This applies to tax income, aid resources and other state income that can increase the total pool of resources available for financing public services.
We are also concerned with state expenses in the sense that people must have greater insight into what is appropriated to different sectors and what is actually used to produce services within, for example, education, health, water and sanitation. Limited state budgets in poor countries must be used in such a way that they produce public services of good quality that reach the greatest number of people.
Norwegian Church Aid does the following to contribute to accountability in the use of national resources:
- We train religious leaders and our partners in understanding systems of taxation and conducting effective advocacy toward their own authorities.
- We give grassroots groups training in tracking public budget funds and ensuring that these funds actually go towards financing public services, such as schools, health and water.
- We challenge national governments, large corporations and multilateral institutions to make it possible for developing countries to realise their income potential and secure rights for their own populations in connection with the extraction of natural resources.
Where we work
The following countries are included in the ‘Resources and financing’ programme: Tanzania, Angola, Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, Mauritania, Burma, Brazil, Guatemala and South Africa.
We have already seen excellent results in several of the countries in which we have implemented this programme. For example, authorities in Tanzania have begun a comprehensive process for improving the regulatory system and tax collection connected to the country’s mining industry. Local budget tracking has also led to improvements in public water supply and public schools, in that corruption and mismanagement of funds has been uncovered.
Churches and faith-based organisations are our core partners, and are uniquely positioned to fight corruption and mismanagement of public resources. Religious leaders have great credibility and influence in many of the countries in which we work.