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Bribery Act - Just days away?

 

Over the weekend the Telegraph reported that the Bribery Act’s guidance notes are just days away from being released. Under pressure from the US government and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development the government is now expected to publish the guidance notes by the end of this week.

Whilst we’re happy to finally hear that the guidance notes are to be published, the government’s delay has been highly worrying. Passed under an all party consensus under Labour and receiving Royal Assent in April last year, the Bribery Act is long overdue.

As we’ve blogged, the Act has come under significant lobbying and criticism from the City of London, business groups, the London Stock Exchange and, not surprisingly the multinational chairman’s group whose members, according to the Guardian include BP, Shell, Diageo, Unilever and Vodafone. Indeed, John Cridland, the director-general of the Confederation of Business Industry, or as his biography describes himself, ‘the voice of business’ has argued that the Act is ‘not fit for purpose’.

What about the voice of those who suffer the cost and consequences of bribery?

Let’s not kid ourselves, bribery is real, serious and disastrous. It is fair that the government hears all sides concerned but it is of vital importance that all voices in the consultation period are heard.

That is what we, with you, have endeavoured to do. It is our goal to give a voice to those who believe that bribery, in all its forms, should be stamped out. It’s our government, and we deserve a say in how it operates and who it listens to.

And that is what the Bribery Act campaign is about. It’s us, ordinary everyday people, joining together to take a stand- to hold our leaders to account and to demand a better standard of accountable, ethical, governance. We don’t tolerate bribery in our personal lives so why should the government allow our businesses to operate in such a way?

With the Bribery Act, the Government has an opportunity to become a leader in the global effort against corruption. It’s an opportunity it shouldn’t waste.

That’s why we at the Global Poverty Project, along with our friends at Transparency International believe that the guidance notes, which form the basis of the Bribery Act, should be released without amendment and that the Act should be implemented as soon as possible.

That’s why over the past few months we’ve written blog articles, sent out numerous email campaigns, and worked closely with Transparency International in keeping a close watch on the government.

And now, we’re about to find out.

We will continue to keep you informed and updated as to the content of the guidance notes. We expect that with the release of the guidance notes the Government will demonstrate with action, and not words, its commitment to combating bribery and the corrosive effect it has on society, business and most importantly those who suffer its’ effects the most – the poor.

 

Pakistan's Education Emergency

 

When I was in primary school, I remember enjoying school so much that I couldn’t wait for each new day. I loved learning exciting new things and being able to socialise with my friends in and out of the classroom during the school day. Once I was back at home, I couldn’t wait to share all the fascinating things I learned with my parents and quiz them to see if they were as smart as I was.

“But Mommy, did you know that Neil Armstrong was the first person to set foot on the moon?”

Of course I was slightly bitter when I discovered that although my mother was impressed by my knowledge, in fact she had also heard of Mr. Armstrong’s achievements.

Unfortunately, there are 7 million children in Pakistan who don’t get the chance to have these conversations with their parents at the end of the day, because they aren’t able to attend primary school. 3 million of them will never even see the inside of a classroom.

That means that of the world’s 67 million out-of-school children we discussed last week, roughly 1 in 10 of them live in Pakistan. And for those children who are in school, many of them suffer through overcrowded classrooms, dilapidated facilities, brutal or careless teachers and an overall failing education system.

The Pakistan Education Task Force has deemed this an “education emergency” and is working to ensure that March is the month that Pakistan talks about nothing but education. Well, and cricket.

They have launched the March for Education campaign to ring the alarm on the emergency and work to bring adequate education to all children in Pakistan. The campaign has marked 2011 as Pakistan’s Year of Education to create a national debate with these topics at the top of the political agenda.

The Issues
The March for Education website has a series of 1-minute videos describing the different issues that are creating this education emergency in Pakistan. They range from accessibility for poor families to a limited number of teachers.

However, you might be surprised to know that money is not what’s holding them back from achieving universal primary education. There are currently 26 countries poorer than Pakistan that send more of their children to primary school.

This is an issue of priorities. If the world is serious about achieving education for all by 2015, we have to make education a priority.

You can make a difference
We can all help make education in Pakistan a priority for politicians by signing the March for Education online petition to world leaders to end the education emergency.

Let’s speak up as a global community to let our leaders know that every child in Pakistan deserves the opportunity to go to school and to learn in a safe and conducive environment, and that the time to act is now.
 

 

Posted by Ashli Alberty in Education for column Action Stories on Mar 28th 2011, 08:01

US: Live Below the Line - Why $1.50?

 

As our Live Below the Line campaign gains momentum and groups at schools, workplaces, universities and community groups around the country sign up to take the challenge – the Live Below the Line team wanted to explore the reason behind the $1.50 a day Line we’ve set for the challenge this May.

Live Below the Line is a challenge designed to provide people across the USA with a small insight into the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people in our world trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty, and to raise funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives creating change for those who need it most.

The challenge is set at $1.50 a day, because this is the current equivalent of the World Bank’s International Extreme Poverty Line – the US$1.25 (back in 2005) on which the world’s poorest people survive on every day – for all their food, health, transport, education and general living costs.

As Americans we could never begin to understand the lack of opportunity and constraint in living on this tiny amount, but by just trying to feed ourselves with the same amount, we can start to get a small understanding of the lack of choice and opportunity available to those trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty.

So – how do we figure out what the current USA equivalent of the 2005 International US$1.25 a day figure is?

There are a few steps involved:

1. Understanding how the World Bank arrives at the US$1.25 a day figure.

The International Extreme Poverty Line was last set by the World Bank in 2005. They came up with the number by finding the purchasing power adjusted average national poverty line of the world’s 10 – 20 poorest countries.

That is, they created the line by analysing of what it means to live in poverty in the poorest nations of our world (as opposed to what it means to live in poverty across all nations).

International Extreme Poverty Line = Average of national poverty lines in world’s poorest nations.

The national poverty lines of the poorest countries are typically set using some version of the ‘cost of basic needs’ method. This generally involves:

  • Setting a ‘Food Poverty Line’ - established by pricing a food bundle that provides a minimum calorie intake required to survive,
  • Adding an allowance for non-food spending (typically obtained from data on the non-food spending of people near the food poverty line),
  • Then setting an ‘absolute’ Poverty Line – determined using the minimum value of consumption needed to be deemed ‘not poor’ in the world’s poorest countries.

National Poverty Lines = Cost of minimum calorie intake + equivalent non-food allowance

These National Poverty Lines try to establish a level of relative deprivation that defines what it means to be poor in the world’s poorest countries. The World Ban then averages and standardises these National Poverty Lines – using a method called ‘Purchasing Power Parity’ (PPP).

This is a method used to compare the value of products across countries, by taking into account the difference in domestic prices for the same goods. That is - how much of a country’s currency is needed in that country to buy what $1 would buy in the United States. Using this method, the World Bank was able to set an international Extreme Poverty Line taking into account the comparative welfare of the world’s poor in ‘real terms’, rather than exchange rate terms, which wouldn’t reflect the different cost of basic goods in relevant countries.

International figure = National figure, adjusted to reflect comparative cost of goods (PPP)

To learn more about Purchasing Power Parity and why it’s the best measure for comparative cost of living, see this World Bank document. Or, if you’d like to find out more about how the World Bank arrives at their US$1.25 a day figure, read this World Bank document, or the full report here.

2. Factoring in inflation since this figure was set

As the World Bank’s figure was set in 2005, we need to bring it up to current figures, accounting for inflation and changes in the value of goods – such as food.

Using Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, we can see that since 2005 the price of goods has increased by 13.3% to 2011, which means we need 13.3% more money to buy the same things as we could buy for $1.25 in 2005 – or $1.42 in 2011.

Current figure = 2005 World Bank figure x Inflation

Therefore the UK equivalent of the International Extreme Poverty Line of US$1.25 is $1.42. We've rounded this up to make it a bit easier to visualise, which is how we came to $1.50. This means that someone living in extreme poverty survives on the equivalent of less than $1.50 in the USA today.

UK: Live Below the Line - Why 1 pound?

 

As our Live Below the Line campaign gains momentum and groups at schools, workplaces, universities and community groups around the country sign up to take the challenge – the Live Below the Line team wanted to explore the reason behind the £1 a day Line we’ve set for the challenge this May.

Live Below the Line is a challenge designed to provide people across the UK with a small insight into the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people in our world trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty, and to raise funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives creating change for those who need it most.

The challenge is set at £1 a day, because this is the current UK purchasing power equivalent of the World Bank’s International Extreme Poverty Line – the US$1.25 on which the world’s poorest people survive on every day – for all their food, health, transport, education and general living costs.

As Brits we could never begin to understand the lack of opportunity and constraint in living on this tiny amount, but by just trying to feed ourselves with the same amount, we can start to get a small understanding of the lack of choice and opportunity available to those trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty.

So – how do we figure out what the UK equivalent of the International US$1.25 a day figure is?

There are a few steps involved:

1. Understanding how the World Bank arrives at the US$1.25 a day figure.

The International Extreme Poverty Line was last set by the World Bank in 2005. They came up with the number by finding the purchasing power adjusted average national poverty line of the world’s 10 – 20 poorest countries.

That is, they created the line by analysing of what it means to live in poverty in the poorest nations of our world (as opposed to what it means to live in poverty across all nations).

International Extreme Poverty Line = Average of national poverty lines in world’s poorest nations.

The national poverty lines of the poorest countries are typically set using some version of the ‘cost of basic needs’ method. This generally involves:

  • Setting a ‘Food Poverty Line’ - established by pricing a food bundle that provides a minimum calorie intake required to survive,
  • Adding an allowance for non-food spending (typically obtained from data on the non-food spending of people near the food poverty line),
  • Then setting an ‘absolute’ Poverty Line – determined using the minimum value of consumption needed to be deemed ‘not poor’ in the world’s poorest countries.

National Poverty Lines = Cost of minimum calorie intake + equivalent non-food allowance

These National Poverty Lines try to establish a level of relative deprivation that defines what it means to be poor in the world’s poorest countries. The World Ban then averages and standardises these National Poverty Lines – using a method called ‘Purchasing Power Parity’ (PPP).

This is a method used to compare the value of products across countries, by taking into account the difference in domestic prices for the same goods. That is - how much of a country’s currency is needed in that country to buy what $1 would buy in the United States. Using this method, the World Bank was able to set an international Extreme Poverty Line taking into account the comparative welfare of the world’s poor in ‘real terms’, rather than exchange rate terms, which wouldn’t reflect the different cost of basic goods in relevant countries.

International figure = National figure, adjusted to reflect comparative cost of goods (PPP)

To learn more about Purchasing Power Parity and why it’s the best measure for comparative cost of living, see this World Bank document. Or, if you’d like to find out more about how the World Bank arrives at their US$1.25 a day figure, read this World Bank document, or the full report here.

2. Translating the international figure for the UK context.

To figure out the UK equivalent of this figure, the first thing we need to do is translate it for the UK context.

Using the same method as the World Bank used to translate its domestic poverty figures to an International Extreme Poverty Line, we use Purchasing Power Parity to convert the International Extreme Poverty Line back to a domestic line.

UK equivalent = US$1.25 x Purchasing Power Parity for UK

World Bank figures tell us that in 2005 (When the World Bank’s International Extreme Poverty Line was set), for every US$1 spent, Brits needed to spend £0.65GBP to buy the equivalent things. This means that the UK equivalent of the US$1.25 figure is £0.8125GBP.

3. Factoring in inflation since this figure was set

As the World Bank’s figure was set in 2005, we need to bring it up to current figures, accounting for inflation and changes in the value of goods – such as food.

Using Bank of England figures, we can see that since 2005 the price of goods has increased by 16.5% to 2010 (when we last got updated figures), which means we need 16.5% more money to buy the same things as we could buy for £0.8125GBP in 2005 – or GBP£0.9465.

Current figure = 2005 World Bank figure x Inflation

Therefore the UK equivalent of the International Extreme Poverty Line of US$1.25 is 95p. Allowing for inflation in 2011 (which is estimated at 4%) and rounding up, we're calling it £1. This means that someone living in extreme poverty survives on the equivalent of a about £1 in the UK.

AU: Live Below the Line - Why $2?

 

As our Live Below the Line campaign gains momentum and groups at schools, workplaces, universities and community groups around the country sign up to take the challenge – the Live Below the Line team wanted to explore the reason behind the $2 a day Line we’ve set for the challenge this May.

Live Below the Line is a challenge designed to provide Australians with a small insight into the challenges faced by the 1.4 billion people in our world trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty, and to raise funds for crucial anti-poverty initiatives creating change for those who need it most.

The challenge is set at $2 a day, because this is the current Australian purchasing power equivalent of the World Bank’s International Extreme Poverty Line – the US$1.25 on which the world’s poorest people survive on every day – for all their food, health, transport, education and general living costs.

As Australians we could never begin to understand the lack of opportunity and constraint in living on this tiny amount, but by just trying to feed ourselves with the same amount, we can start to get a small understanding of the lack of choice and opportunity available to those trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty.

So – how do we figure out what the Australian equivalent of the International US$1.25 a day figure is?

There are a few steps involved:

1. Understanding how the World Bank arrives at the US$1.25 a day figure.

The International Extreme Poverty Line was last set by the World Bank in 2005. They came up with the number by finding the purchasing power adjusted average national poverty line of the world’s 10 – 20 poorest countries.

That is, they created the line by analysing of what it means to live in poverty in the poorest nations of our world (as opposed to what it means to live in poverty across all nations).

International Extreme Poverty Line = Average of national poverty lines in world’s poorest nations.

The national poverty lines of the poorest countries are typically set using some version of the ‘cost of basic needs’ method. This generally involves:

  • Setting a ‘Food Poverty Line’ - established by pricing a food bundle that provides a minimum calorie intake required to survive,
  • Adding an allowance for non-food spending (typically obtained from data on the non-food spending of people near the food poverty line),
  • Then setting an ‘absolute’ Poverty Line – determined using the minimum value of consumption needed to be deemed ‘not poor’ in the world’s poorest countries.

National Poverty Lines = Cost of minimum calorie intake + equivalent non-food allowance

These National Poverty Lines try to establish a level of relative deprivation that defines what it means to be poor in the world’s poorest countries. The World Ban then averages and standardises these National Poverty Lines – using a method called ‘Purchasing Power Parity’ (PPP).

This is a method used to compare the value of products across countries, by taking into account the difference in domestic prices for the same goods. That is - how much of a country’s currency is needed in that country to buy what $1 would buy in the United States. Using this method, the World Bank was able to set an international Extreme Poverty Line taking into account the comparative welfare of the world’s poor in ‘real terms’, rather than exchange rate terms, which wouldn’t reflect the different cost of basic goods in relevant countries.

International figure = National figure, adjusted to reflect comparative cost of goods (PPP)

To learn more about Purchasing Power Parity and why it’s the best measure for comparative cost of living, see this World Bank document. Or, if you’d like to find out more about how the World Bank arrives at their US$1.25 a day figure, read this World Bank document, or the full report here.

2. Translating the international figure for the Australian context.

To figure out the Australian equivalent of this figure, the first thing we need to do is translate it for the Australian context.

Using the same method as the World Bank used to translate its domestic poverty figures to an International Extreme Poverty Line, we use Purchasing Power Parity to convert the International Extreme Poverty Line back to a domestic line.

Australian equivalent = US$1.25 x Purchasing Power Parity for Australia

World Bank figures tell us that in 2005 (When the World Bank’s International Extreme Poverty Line was set), for every US$1 spent, Australians needed to spend $1.39AUD to buy the equivalent things. This means that the Australian equivalent of the US$1.25 figure is $1.74AUD.

3. Factoring in inflation since this figure was set

As the World Bank’s figure was set in 2005, we need to bring it up to current figures, accounting for inflation and changes in the value of goods – such as food.

Using Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, we can see that since 2005 the price of goods has increased by 14.8% to 2010 (when we last got updated figures), which means we need 14.8% more money to buy the same things as we could buy for $1.74AUD in 2005 – or $2.00AUD.

Current figure = 2005 World Bank figure x Inflation

Therefore the Australian equivalent of the International Extreme Poverty Line of US$1.25 is $2.00AUD.

This means that someone living in extreme poverty survives on the equivalent of a $2AUD, in Australia, buying Australian goods.

Join the international Live Below the Line movement - sign up to live on $2 a day (of food and drink) from May 16th - 20th.