I am delighted to introduce this special issue of Leadership and Policy Quarterly (LPQ) published by Untested Ideas Research Center. First I would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Professor Jinyan Huang, for giving me this great opportunity to be the Guest Editor. I would also like to extend my thanks to the journal board, the selected reviewers and, of course, the authors for the papers enclosed.
One of the emerging trends in which citizens can participate in the decision-making process of the community is through Participatory Budgeting (PB). This is a decision-making process through which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the distribution of public resources. It helps promote transparency, which has the potential to reduce government inefficiencies and corruption. It also provides poor and historically excluded citizens with access to important decision-making venues (Wampler, 2007). PB is a process that tackles the improvement of state’s performance by institutionalizing rules on checks and balances, and at the same time, by creating room for citizens to involve themselves in public policy debates. In this way, it encourages citizens’ direct participation and increases their knowledge of public affairs. Advocates of PB see it as an all-inclusive and discursive process of making decisions based on agreement between officials and citizens with interest in or concern over development issues. Hence, the promotion of PB at a local level is considered imperative as a way of increasing social equity, while reducing clientelism, social exclusion and corruption (Wampler, 2000). This is because of its potential to make governments more responsive to citizens’ needs and preferences, and to make them more accountable to citizens in proper resource allocation and service delivery (Shah, 2007).
Government systems of many developing countries like the Philippines today still lack adequate and satisfactory systems that would guarantee access to public services, especially by the disadvantaged groups. Systems such as rent seeking and malfeasance, inappropriate allocation of resources, inefficient revenue systems, and weak delivery of vital public services continue to lurk in the institution, adversely affecting the very existence of the underprivileged. Thus, there is a need to achieve a better understanding of ways to improve the management of the country’s affairs. Such mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups can articulate their interests, exercise their legal rights and mediate their differences should be considered (UNDP, n.d.) for improved governance in the public sector. Hence, the state’s role is to create a stable political and legal environment conducive to sustaining development. On the other hand, the civil society institutions’ and organizations’ roles are to facilitate political and social interaction, and mobilize groups to participate in economic, social and political activities (Abdellatif, 2003). Moreover, for the state to achieve good governance, it has to “conduct public affairs, manage public resources and guarantee the realization of human rights in a manner essentially free of abuse and corruption, and with due respect for the rule of law” (UNHR). Also, adherence to the principles of transparency, responsibility, accountability, participation and responsiveness to the needs of the people (UNHR) must be emphasized.
For an agricultural country like Vietnam where more than 80% of the population makes their living by farming, crafting has proved to be more yielding and brought back better income for the producers. Therefore, the Vietnamese Government has made craft sector development one of the priorities in the national rural poverty reduction programs. In addition, for the provinces possessing heritage sites like Quang Nam province, handicraft products play an important role in preserving and promoting heritages. However, a number of craft villages in Vietnam are on the verge of declining due to the social, cultural and economic changes as a result of modernization and economic development. On the one hand, the old-style craft products have no longer meet the demands of the new market. On the other hand, human resources in craft villages are being lost due to the dying out of the old-aged artisans as young people continue to migrate to seek other job opportunities that they think are better for them. In addition, a significant amount of souvenirs and craft products sold in Vietnam’s tourist destinations are mass-produced by a select group of craft centres, and some of these are not even located inside Vietnam but in other countries such as China.
It is estimated that 31.5% of Bangladesh population (proximately 163 million1) is living below the poverty line2; and the majority of them are surviving under poor living conditions such as insufficient health, educational and transportation facilities. Consequently, thousands of people are migrating everyday towards the capital city, hopeful of a better life, and many hundreds of them are seen begging for alms from the pedestrians on the roadside, at traffic signals and in open public areas of Dhaka. There have been reportedly more than 700,000i beggars across Bangladesh; among them about 40,000 are believed to be in Dhaka, the capital city of 12 million populationii. Together with the Bangladesh government, Grameen Bank has taken initiatives to adopt programs for alleviating such type of poverty.
CALL FOR PAPERS/PROPOSALS
2ND Untested Ideas International Research Conference
June 27 – 29, 2014
The Sheraton Rhodes Resort, Rhodes, Greece