World Bank finds HK governance improving

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 12:00am

Good report card shows steady advancement but also highlights long road ahead

Hong Kong is better governed than three years ago, but has a long way to go to match many western democracies, a World Bank study concludes.

The city scored higher marks for accountability, effectiveness of government and anti-corruption efforts last year than in 2002. Its ratings on three other governance-related indicators - political stability, the quality of regulation and rule of law - were also up, according to the survey of 209 states and territories.

The indicators were based on 352 variables, measuring factors such as freedom, political participation, the threat from terrorism, financial management and judicial independence. The variables are taken from the databases of 30 institutes, including the Heritage Foundation, Economist Intelligence Unit and World Economic Forum. On a scale from minus 2.5 to plus 2.5, Hong Kong scored a world-leading 1.89 for the quality of its regulation, beating Singapore, on 1.87.

The indicator measures factors such as market-friendliness and taxation. The score beat the city's 2002 rating of 1.45, but fell short of its record pre-handover mark of 2.07 in 1996.

The accountability index, which takes into account factors like civil liberties and public satisfaction with democracy, continues to improve, having risen from minus 0.16 in 1998 to plus 0.21 in 2004. That is far short of countries like Britain and Australia, which scored 1.37 and 1.40 respectively.

The score for rule of law was up from 1.21 in 2002 to 1.42 - still a long way below its 1996 rating of 1.71. Singapore's rating last year was 1.82, and Britain's 1.71.

Politically, the city, at 1.30, is rated much more stable than Britain, at 0.77, and the United States at 0.47.

The city's anti-corruption efforts rated 1.57, up from 1.43 in 2002.

The effectiveness indicator, which measures the work of the civil service and the state of the public finances, rose marginally, to 1.49.

Daniel Kaufmann, director of global programmes at the World Bank Institute, said improvements in governance boosted a country's income and standard of living in the longer term.

Unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan warned against complacency.

'I certainly don't think the public feels any real improvement in governance,' he said.

'Tung Chee-hwa would not have had to step down [as chief executive] had governance improved.'

He said the rule of law had been damaged by Beijing's decision last year to rule out early universal suffrage.




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