Can Foreign Aid Buy Better Governance? The Political Economy of Budget Reforms in Aid-Dependent Countries
The quality of governance and institutions is increasingly seen as a fundamental factor in shaping the development prospects of poor countries. As a consequence, donor agencies have increasingly allocated resources to providing technical assistance for improving governance standards in such countries, with mixed results. This thesis investigates the domestic and external factors affecting the outcomes of reforms aimed at improving the quality of government budget institutions across a sample of 16 aid?dependent countries. The results show that among domestic factors, economic and political stability are preconditions for successful budget reforms. A minimum degree of government leadership and commitment to reforms is also a very important factor shaping budget reform outcomes, alongside the centralisation of budget institutions. Surprisingly, among external factors, the level of technical assistance and the use of so?called programme aid modalities were less important than the overall fragmentation of aid flows and the ways in which technical assistance is delivered in influencing budget reform outcomes. Donors’ hopes of ‘buying’ better budget governance, therefore, are more likely to be enhanced not by additional resources, but by better behaviour. Moreover, such strategy is likely to work only in countries with enough capacity and interest in reforms.