Chapter 5. Paving the way to sustainable development, peace, justice and strong institutions in Paraguay1

Strong institutions are essential to creating wealth and maintaining peace, order and security. In turn, good governance is fundamental to the legitimacy of institutions and to delivering high-quality goods and services to people. This chapter investigates aspects associated with good governance. It starts by analysing features of the Paraguayan democracy and the rule of law. It then looks at the public-sector integrity framework and existing strategies to fight corruption, followed by an assessment of the strategies to promote openness, which include transparency, citizen participation and accountability. Later, it describes the co-ordination mechanisms between different government institutions and levels. Subsequently it looks at the satisfaction with public services by socio-economic groups and if these differences could signal the lack of a differentiated response towards vulnerable groups. It ends by arguing that a solid basis of high-quality official statistics is required to support policy making and enhance transparency in Paraguay.

    

Government capacity in Paraguay is comparatively limited

A government is made up of accumulated institutional memory, a trained bureaucracy and sufficient financial resources to fulfil its tasks. In turn, governments are responsible for guaranteeing the fundamental rights required to maintain social order and peace and for delivering goods and services to citizens. While these goods and services could be delivered through several channels (e.g. direct provision or outsourcing) governments are ultimately accountable to citizens for their provision. Governments are also expected to adhere to high ethical standards, take account of people’s views and allocate public resources efficiently.

As Paraguay speeds up the pace of its economic and social development, the size and expectations of the middle class are expected to increase and consequently so are the number and complexity of tasks requiring government intervention. Compared to Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries Paraguay has a relatively small government. In 2015, government expenditures reached 25% of GDP in the country compared to 34% in LAC countries and 45% in OECD countries. Consistently, the proportion of public employment as a share of total employment is relatively low, at 9.8%, when compared to LAC (12%) and OECD (21%) averages. While in recent years both proportions have increased, government capacity remains fairly limited and that will challenge its ability to respond rapidly and effectively to rising citizens’ expectations and demands (Figure 5.1). Strategically planning the right mix of skills for the civil service in the years to come would help the government not only to meet strategic objectives, but also increase efficiency, responsiveness and quality in service delivery.

Figure 5.1. Paraguay’s government capacity remains comparatively limited
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Note: Panel A: The OECD average is based on the System of National Accounts (SNA) data. Data for Thailand and Israel in 2014 are not available.

Source: Panel A: International Monetary Fund (2017), World Economic Outlook (database), https://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2015/01/weodata/index.aspx. Panel B: ILO (2017) ILOSTAT (database), http://www.ilo.org/global/statistics-and-databases/lang--en/index.htm.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750377

Beyond the actual capacity of government, people’s perception of government performance and integrity also matters. In particular, trust in government is one of the most important foundations upon which the legitimacy and sustainability of political systems are built. It influences government’s ability to govern and enables it to act without resorting to coercion. High levels of trust are an efficient means of lowering transaction costs in any social, economic and political relationship (Fukuyama, 1995). While trust in government could be affected by a wide array of phenomena such as corruption scandals, government performance and approval of the incumbent government, consistently low levels of trust will impede the implementation of reform and lead to lower rates of compliance with rules and regulations (OECD 2013b). In 2016 only 28% of the Paraguayan population reported trusting the government, three percentage points lower than in 2006 (Figure 5.2). Maintaining and strengthening commitment to inclusiveness, transparency, responsiveness and efficiency on the part of government is required for increasing levels of institutional trust (OECD 2017a).

Figure 5.2. Percentage of population reporting confidence in the national government
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Source: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750396

Developing strong institutions is key for achieving sustainable development

The Paraguayan democracy is consolidating

Setting out its vision for Paraguay in 2030, the National Development Plan (NDP) envisages the country as a “democratic, supportive state, subsidiary, transparent and geared towards the provision of equal opportunities.” The NDP also recognises the advances that have been made since the return of democracy in 1992 to protect fundamental rights and consolidate democratic institutions (NDP, pp. 37). Both the 1992 constitution and the 1996 electoral code include the set of rights and duties (e.g. voting, press freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of association, voting rights) traditionally associated with democracy. Yet the consolidation of democracy has been a convoluted process (Box 5.1), punctuated by attempts to overthrow the government in office, coups d’état, murders of political leaders, irregular and contested elections and political impeachments. As such Paraguay is considered to be in the consolidation phase of its democracy and some scholars have even categorised it as a low-quality democracy (Barreda and Bou, 2010).

Box 5.1. Towards the consolidation of democracy, a convoluted process

Between 1954 and 1989, Paraguay was a dictatorship led by General Alfredo Stroessner, with the state under the control of Stroessner’s Colorado party and the armed forces (Abente Brun, 2011). In 1989, Stroessner was overthrown in a military coup led by General Andrés Rodriguez, who allied himself with the political opposition on an agenda to liberalise the economy and, crucially, to reform the 1967 constitution. In elections held shortly after the coup, the Colorado party (now headed by General Rodriguez) was elected to complete the 1988-1993 term. During this period, in 1991, the first municipal elections to appoint mayors (intendentes) took place. Compared to the earlier presidential elections where it obtained around 20% of votes, the Partido Liberal Radical Autentico (PLRA) won 34% of the vote consolidating its position as the main opposition force.

During 1991, elections of representatives to the constitutional assembly were called; the Colorado party obtained a significant majority of 55.1% of the vote. The constitutional assembly opted for a model of a weak executive and a strong parliament (Abente Brun, 2011). General Rodríguez exerted some pressure to include an article allowing his possible re-election; but ultimately, a clause was included in the constitution forbidding presidential re-election. Following the promulgation of the constitution in 1992 elections were called for 1993.

In the 1993 elections the Colorado party faced internal disputes to select its candidate between Juan Carlos Wasmosy (representative of the reformist wing of the party) and Luis María Argaña (representing more traditional sectors of the party and including several of Stroessner’s traditional supporters). Following the internal election, where Wasmosy was selected as candidate, allegations of fraud were raised (several years later members of Wasmosy’s campaign acknowledged that the election was actually won by Argaña). Subsequently, the national election was won by Wasmosy but once more the electoral process was disorganised and contested to the point where former US president Jimmy Carter who was invited to verify the process met the three candidates to obtain assurances that the problems faced during the election would not be repeated.

For the 1998 elections, the internal election of the Colorado party was again convoluted, General Lino Oviedo, who had led a failed coup d’état against President Wasmosy was selected as candidate but shortly after sent to jail by the military courts and his condemnation was ratified by the Supreme Court. From jail, General Oviedo supported the candidacy of Raúl Cubas Grau as president and Luis María Argaña as vice-president. With 54% of votes Cubas was elected president in 1998 and shortly after commuted Oviedo’s sentence, starting a legal battle between the government and the Supreme Court. The murder of Vice-President Argaña created further instability leading to both Cubas and Oviedo leaving the country. Luis González Macchi, the president of the congress, was then appointed president; yet, according to the constitution it was necessary to call elections to replace the vice-president. Following the 1999 election Julio César Franco, from the opposition party PLRA, was elected vice-president, thereby eroding the legitimacy of González Macchi as head of the government, though he was able to finish his term.

In spite of the reorganisation of the political opposition the Colorado party maintained its hegemony and in 2003 Nicanor Duarte Frutos was elected president and ran a relatively stable government. However, in 2007 President Duarte began efforts to change the constitution to allow his re-election leading to massive popular demonstrations that forced the government to pull back on its efforts to institute re-election.

In 2008 former bishop Fernando Lugo, representing a coalition of opposition parties, was elected president breaking a hegemonic party regime that had lasted 61 years. However, in 2012, following a confrontation between peasants and the police, president Lugo was impeached by the parliament and replaced by vice-president Federico Franco to end his presidential period.

In 2013 new statutory elections took place and Horacio Cartes Jara from the Colorado Party was elected president. In turn, recent attempts to reform the constitution in favour of the possibility of the re-election of Cartes and Lugo resulted in violent demonstrations leading to the takeover of the parliament by demonstrators in March 2017.

Source: Authors.

A core characteristic of a solid democracy is the organisation of periodic elections that should be free and fair. In this context the OECD recognises the right of people to express their political voice as a fundamental component for enhancing well-being (OECD 2013a; OECD 2015). The analysis of data coming from a variety of sources sheds light on some key features of the Paraguayan democracy.

Figure 5.3 Panel A displays the turnout at presidential elections since the 1990s extracted from the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) dataset. Elections took place in Paraguay even during the dictatorship; however, elections occurring under the Stroessner regime were fraudulent and opposition parties had neither guarantees of impartiality nor a real option of accessing power (Nickson, 2010). Consequently, voter turnout data in Paraguay are only considered reliable since the 1998 election when in addition to being conducted according to democratic rules the electoral lists were updated (Figure 5.3, Panel A). In the presidential election of 1998 the participation rate reached 80%, one of the highest for countries in the region over the period 1996-2000. Participation decreased for the subsequent two elections reaching its lowest point (60.3%) in 2008 and bouncing back to 68% in 2013 (though still below the level reached in 1998). Scholars have documented abstention in Paraguay as a phenomenon affecting mainly the young and rural populations (López, 2014).

Figure 5.3. Voter turnout at national elections is stable but satisfaction with democracy remains at low levels
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Source: Panel A: IDEA dataset (2017), Voter Turnout Database (dataset), http://www.idea.int/data-tools/data/voter-turnout. Panel B: Latinobarometro (2015), “Datos 2015”, Banco de Datos (dataset), www.latinobarometro.org.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750415

Compared to other countries in the region turnout at presidential elections is not particularly low in Paraguay. However, democracy goes beyond elections. Moreover, the meaningfulness of competitive elections depends on additional conditions such as their freedom and fairness, the existence of freedom of expression, reliability of the media, association rights, existence of opposition parties that are free to criticise, rights for minorities, and equal treatment by the justice system. Scholars have associated these components with a liberal conception of democracy.

According to Ferrín (2016), who has done an extensive analysis for European countries, a survey question about the satisfaction with democracy provides a reliable summary measure of respondents’ assessments of how well the liberal2 elements of democracy work. According to the latest available data from the Latinobarómetro, less than one quarter of Paraguayan citizens are satisfied with how democracy works in their country, the third lowest of LAC countries in the benchmark group (Figure 5.3, Panel B). Nevertheless, between 2006 and 2015, satisfaction with democracy increased by 12.6 percentage points in Paraguay, the largest increase in the benchmark LAC countries, thereby signalling a certain degree of resilience by democratic institutions in a period punctuated by several episodes of political instability (see Box 5.1).

Yet challenges still lie ahead for the consolidation of democratic institutions. When asked whether they agree with a number of statements about democracy, fewer than half of Paraguayans consider that democracy is preferable to any other form of government, the lowest in LAC countries of the benchmark group. More worrying is the fact that 37% of the population consider that in some circumstances an authoritarian government is preferable to a constitutional one, shedding light on the positive views of some sectors of the population about having an authoritarian government in office (see Figure 5.4, Panel A). In turn, less than 20% of the population consider elections to be honest a share that has declined since 2006 (see Figure 5.4, Panel B).

Figure 5.4. Percentage of the population considering that an authoritarian government could be justified and perceiving elections as being honest
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Source: Panel A: Latinobarometro (2015), “Datos 2015”, Banco de Datos (dataset), www.latinobarometro.org. Panel B: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750434

Unlike other countries in the southern cone (i.e. Argentina and Chile) where transition to democracy occurred in the framework of a breakdown of the population with the ruling elite and a democratic or military defeat of the armed forces, in Paraguay the process was led by the army itself and segments of the ruling elite remained in office. In other words, while elections represented the beginning of the transition in Paraguay (see Box 5.1) they were the end of it in Chile and Argentina (Juárez, 2015). Further promoting political participation and ensuring the effective application of democratic values such as the reliability and diversity of media and the consolidation and respect of opposition parties is essential for ensuring human rights as well as maintaining peace and social order in the years to come.

Finally, while voting is certainly the most popular means through which individuals “control” the appointment of government officials, there are other ways that allow individuals to influence government officials, their political choices and the political system (Boarini and Díaz, 2015). Citizens can express their political voices by signing a petition, joining a political organisation or participating in a political rally or demonstration, among other activities. These activities are relevant as they can provide a corrective to public policy by revealing people’s views and needs, maintain political vigilance among citizens, and improve the quality of a democracy (OECD, 2011). In this context, an important indicator of the propensity of people to engage in political activities other than voting is the share of the population that voiced their opinion to a public official. In 2016, only 8% of the Paraguayan population reported voicing their opinion to a public official over the last month, the lowest proportion within the benchmark group (Figure 5.5). Furthermore, following Chile (10 percentage points [pp]) Paraguay experienced the second largest decrease on this variable between 2016 and 2006 (8 pp.).

Figure 5.5. Compared to the benchmark group, Paraguayan population that reported voicing their opinion to a public official is very low
Percentage of the population who voiced their opinion to a public official
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Source: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750453

Continuing to strengthen the justice system is crucial for ensuring the rule of law

To strengthen the independence of the judicial branch the 1992 constitution earmarked 3% of the national budget to finance the judiciary. As stated in the constitution, the application of justice is the responsibility of the Judicial Branch composed of the Supreme Court of Justice, the tribunals and the courts.3 The Judicial Council (Consejo Superior de la Magistratura) is an independent body in charge of selecting and proposing candidates for positions in the justice system and providing specialised legal training in the judicial school. It is composed of representatives of the three branches of power, the legal practice and academia.4

The Supreme Court is the highest authority for the application of justice; it has nine members called ministers of the Supreme Court5 (Ministros de la Corte Suprema) divided into three chambers: constitutional, commercial-civil and criminal. The core functions of the Supreme Court are: the supervision of all bodies of the judicial branch; to rule on conflicts of jurisdiction and competence between different courts; to issue its own rules and procedures; judge on the due instances as specified in the law; judge on habeas corpus without prejudice to the jurisdiction of other judges and courts; judge on unconstitutionality; act as a second instance court in the cases established by law; to preventively suspend judges who are judicially prosecuted until a final decision is reached; to supervise detention and imprisonment institutions; and to advise on the jurisdiction conflicts between the executive and the departments and between departments and municipalities.

Beyond its core functions of administering justice, the Paraguayan Supreme Court has a very large range of functions including: a) selecting court members, judges and fiscal agents from the candidates proposed by the Superior Council of the Judiciary; b) swearing in justices, prosecutors and any other relevant officials; c) appointing Supreme Court ministers that will become members of the Superior Council of the Judiciary; d) appointing the general superintendent of justice upon proposal from the superintendence; e) preparing the draft budget of the judicial branch, etc.

The justice system in Paraguay is confronted with several challenges in fulfilling its objectives of administering timely justice in a transparent and fair manner. For example, the country has a relatively low number of judges with only seven per 100 000 people when compared with 11 in the benchmark group and 18 in European Union countries (Figure 5.6) posing challenges to the efficient delivery of justice. Besides the relatively low number of judges is the array of functions that are to be undertaken by judges (specified above) beyond the administration of justice.

Figure 5.6. Number of judges per 100 000 inhabitants, 2015
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Notes: Data for Costa Rica are 2014. Data for Israel, Uruguay and Brazil are 2011. Data for Uruguay and Brazil were extracted from the Iberoamerican Summit of Justice Ministries (COMJIB). Data for Canada and Indonesia are not available. Professional judges or magistrates mean both full-time and part-time officials authorised to hear civil, criminal and other cases, including in appeal courts, and to make dispositions in a court of law.

Source: UNODOC (2017), Crime and Criminal Justice Statistics, http://www.unodc.org/unodc/fr/data-and-analysis/statistics/crime.html; CEPEJ (2017) for the EU (26) average.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750472

According to the latest available evidence only 28% of the Paraguayan population trust the judiciary, a level that is substantially lower than for the benchmark group (42%) and the OECD (54%). In turn, when analysing the Paraguayan data by socio-economic characteristics, the results indicate that people living in urban areas (32%) trust the judicial system more than those living in rural areas (25%). Similarly, people who finished tertiary education (40%) tend to trust the judiciary more than those with lower education levels. A similar trend is found by income groups, where people belonging to the highest income quintiles reported higher levels of trust in the judiciary (Figure 5.7). The differences in trust levels across groups could stem from their capacity to overcome barriers to accessing justice; such barriers could be geographic (proximity), economic or cultural (e.g. the belief that the system is only for a privileged few). In spite of recent efforts to improve access to justice (Box 5.2) the system is still perceived as distant and responding only to the needs of a privileged few (ISSAT, 2015).

Figure 5.7. People belonging to the highest income quintiles reported higher levels of trust in the judiciary
Percentage of the population that reported trust in the judiciary, 2016
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Source: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750491

Box 5.2. The Houses of Justice (HoJ)

Since 2015, Paraguay has recently begun to establish Houses of Justice (HoJ), based on the French institutions of the same name (maisons de justice et du droit), which are designed to facilitate access to legal advice and services to vulnerable populations. To date, only one house (located in Concepción) is fully operational, but it is planned that more will be established in regions across the country. The Houses of Justice offer the following set of basic services: a) legal orientation and information; b) legal assistance; c) sponsoring or legal representation; d) derivation of judicial procedures to mediation instances; e) comprehensive care for women, children and other groups in a situation of vulnerability as well as co-ordination for the provision of health services. A set of additional services can also be provided by Houses of Justice on specific issues requiring legal assistance (e.g. identity problems, legalisation of land titles, neighbourhood conflicts, domestic violence, alimony and child support pensions, etc). The population targeted by HoJ are people in situation of vulnerability, with comprehensive attention for some specific groups (i.e. women, children, the disabled and members of the indigenous population) if required. In this context, judicial enablers (facilitadores judiciales), community leaders working to improve access to justice and belonging to a programme led by the judicial branch are considered key actors within the HoJ.

A final concern is the level of judicial independence in Paraguay. The 1992 constitution certainly improved the institutional design by assigning a fixed budget to the judicial branch; modifying the selection mechanism of judges and creating the SJC; increasing the period on the bench for ministers of the Supreme Court (from five years aligned with the presidential mandate to indefinite terms up to 75 years of age) and increasing the range of constitutional powers of the Supreme Court.

Yet, scholars still consider that Paraguayan judicial independence is deficient (Turner, 2010; Basabe-Serrano, 2015). Such a trend has been attributed to the pervasive influence of informal institutions prevalent during the dictatorship and deeply entrenched in the Paraguayan political and judicial systems (Basabe-Serrano, 2015). The mechanisms threatening judicial independence in Paraguay are co-optation (means used by politicians to appoint judges who will be attentive to their interests), clientelism (the exchange of court-based favours between judges and politicians) and judicial corruption (the use of public authority for the private benefit of court personnel). According to several scholars (Seligson, 1998; Vial, Orrego and Alcaraz, 2006) the prevalence of these patterns explains the low levels of trust in the judiciary and the fact that they have not increased following the institutional changes that came with the return of democracy. In general the universal application of the rule of law is challenged by a justice system with limited capacity and the tasks of which go beyond the application of the law.

Insecurity is comparatively high and more prevalent in border areas

Personal security concerns people’s vulnerability to a wide range of threats as well as how safe they feel. According to Latinobarometer, when asked about the country’s main problem in 2015, the leading answer reported by 24.5% of Paraguayans was crime and public security. Similarly, 50% of Paraguayans do not feel safe when walking alone at night, the highest level for LAC countries included in the benchmark group (see Figure 5.8, Panel A). However, the evidence is mixed. While still at the high end of the benchmark group, the homicide rate decreased from 15.9 per 100 000 people in 2006 to 8.8 in 2014 (Figure 5.8, Panel B). However, homicides rates vary across departments, ranging from 94.5 homicides per 100 000 people in Amambay to 2.4 in Cordillera (Figure 5.9).

Figure 5.8. The homicide rate has decreased but insecurity perception remains high
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Note: Data for Canada are 2013. Data for Israel are 2012. Data for Indonesia are 2008.

Source: Panel A: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database). Panel B: World Bank (2017a), World Development Indicators (database), Washington DC, http://data.worldbank.org; OECD (2017b), health dataset, https://data.oecd.org/health.htm.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750510

Figure 5.9. The homicide rate shows a mixed picture
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Note: Panel A: Data for Neembecú are 2014. Panel B: Departments in grey is where the rate increased, those in blue are those departments where the rate decreased.

Source: Observatorio Nacional de Seguridad y Convivencia Ciudadana (2017).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750529

The departments with the highest homicide rates (Amambay, Concepción, Canindeyú and San Pedro) all border Brazil, or are close to the border with it (Figure 5.9). These departments are the area of operation of the Paraguayan People’s Army (Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo or EPP) a guerrilla group operating since at least the early 1990s in Paraguay (Box 5.3). Furthermore, this border is notorious for being highly porous, with smuggling and illicit trade common and contributing to accentuating the institutional weakness. According to UNODC, in the region Paraguay is the largest producer of marijuana and accounts for around 15% of the global trade in this drug. Additionally, the absence of substantial air control mechanisms has made Paraguay a transit point for drug flights carrying cocaine from Bolivia and Peru (ISSAT, 2015).

Box 5.3. The Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP)

The Ejercito del Pueblo Paraguayo (EPP) (Paraguayan People’s Army) is a rebel group operating since at least 1992 mainly in the Concepción and San Pedro departments but with some sporadic presence in the departments of Caaguazu and Canindeyú. It is a self-proclaimed Marxist group and its stated mission is to abolish the “bourgeois and liberal parliamentary system” and replace it with a regime of popular congresses. Since its inception the EPP has engaged in more than 100 armed actions including kidnappings, attacks on property, attacks on isolated police and military posts, bombs placed in media outlets and a branch of the attorney general’s office as well as two attacks on electricity pylons (McDermott, 2015). Estimates of the size of the group vary from 30 to 50 full-time combatants and up to 200 members when including its extended logistics network, supplying the core group with food and a steady stream of intelligence. One of its main sources of funding has been kidnapping for economic motives. There have been up to 27 abductions linked to the EPP and on most occasions victims have been members of the Paraguayan ruling class. For example, one of EPP’s best known actions was the kidnap and murder in 2004 of Cecilia Cubas, daughter of former president Raúl Cubas. Additionally, recent evidence also indicates that it is very likely that the EPP extorts money from marijuana growers in its area of influence and could be also exploiting its own crops (McDermott, 2015). The EPP is also connected with other rebel groups in the region, and it is documented that they have received training and advice from the Colombian guerrilla Fuerzas armadas revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). Historically, the fight against the EPP was led by the police but following the arrival of President Cartes a decree was issued in 2013 allowing the military to be used for internal security followed by the establishment of a joint Task Force led by the army and reporting directly to the presidency, exacerbating rivalry between the police and the armed forces. Yet, the army lacks appropriate technology and has limited intelligence capacity which has resulted in relatively poor military results in the fight against the EPP. Furthermore, increased pressure to achieve results has resulted in accusations of human rights abuses and heavy-handed actions (McDermott, 2015).

Source: Authors.

Since 2013, the government has launched a large-scale operation (the “Plan Hendy”) to fight smuggling by increasing controls. Additionally, in early 2014 a specialised anti-smuggling unit was established in the Public Prosecutors’ Office operating mainly in Asunción and its metropolitan area. Despite such efforts smuggling is still prevalent and causes huge economic loss to the Paraguayan government. Drug traffickers, along with arms traffickers, counterfeiters, and money launderers, continue to take advantage of the country’s weak law enforcement and porous borders to pursue criminal activities on Paraguayan territory. In conclusion, insecurity is comparatively high in Paraguay and more prevalent in border areas.

Paraguay has advanced towards the development of a comprehensive and coherent integrity system, ensuring its effectiveness remains a big challenge

Corruption is commonly defined as the abuse of entrusted power for private gain (Transparency International, 2016b). Most corrupt practices take place at the interface between the private and the public sectors. More precisely, corruption affects decisions in the sense that efforts are placed into unproductive instead of productive activities. For example, corrupt public officials have incentives to create artificial bottlenecks and red tape to enable rent extraction which results in bureaucratic inefficiencies in the first place or they could prefer choosing contract modalities and projects where bribes are easier to obtain.

High levels of perceived corruption erode social capital and divert financial resources from investment in development and well-being and have been associated with diminishing trust in public institutions (OECD, 2013a; OECD, 2015). Furthermore, they discourage citizens from complying with their tax and other legal duties, thereby weakening the overall capacity of governments to implement public policies. While in the short run corruption may “grease the wheels of the government”, in the long run it undermines economic growth, and intensifies environmental, social, and health problems (Holmberg, Rothstein and Nasiritousi, 2009; Djankov et al., 2009; Gupta, Davoodi and Alonso-Terme, 2002; Mauro, 1995).

Figure 5.10. Perception and experience of corruption are high
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Source: Panel A: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database). Panel B: Latinobarometro (2015), “Datos 2015”, Banco de Datos (dataset), www.latinobarometro.org.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750548

According to the Gallup World Poll 74% of Paraguayans consider corruption to be widespread across government, a value that is slightly above the average of the benchmark group (71%). Furthermore, in the case of Paraguay, this figure has remained practically unchanged since 2006. According to Erlingsson and Cristinsson (2016) corruption perceptions could be framed by several factors such as information availability (e.g. a widely diffused scandal) ideological factors (e.g. overemphasising corruption perception if a government from the opposition is in office) and direct corruption experiences (e.g. paying a bribe). In the case of the latter, 37% of Paraguayans reported that they or a family member knew about corrupt behaviour occurring during the last 12 months,6 after Brazil the second largest level for LAC countries of the benchmark group.

As part of its National Development Plan, the Paraguayan government has as a cross cutting objective to “reduce corruption by clarifying the rules, improving transparency and accountability mechanisms, increasing participation from beneficiaries and users in the scrutiny of the various programmes at the different levels of government”. In this context several initiatives7 have been taken as part of the National Plan for the Prevention of Corruption (NPPC) approved by decree 4900 of 2016 and in line with the provisions set forth by the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). The ultimate goal of the plan is to reduce structural or systemic weakness of public institutions, reduce opportunities for corruption, promote the correct use of public resources and boost trust in public institutions. The NPPC includes nine areas of emphasis8 which translate into 58 concrete commitments involving several public institutions. According to the government 41 of those commitments have been fully met, 12 are in the process of being met, and five need to be redefined.

One of the core institutional pillars in the fight against corruption has been the recently created national anti-corruption agency (SENAC). SENAC was legally established in 2012 with the mission of leading the implementation of policies to increase transparency and fight against corruption in all institutions of the executive branch, as well as improving co-operation between public sector institutions and social actors to fight corruption. SENAC was allocated a budget enabling it to start operating only in 2014. With the goal of reaching citizens who want to submit complaints and access corruption data SENAC has established an anti-corruption website as a platform for denouncing alleged cases of corruption in the public administration and accessing corruption data. Complaints can be submitted anonymously or requesting encrypted protection of personal data.

SENAC has been successful in co-ordinating and ensuring that all institutions within the executive establish a unit for fighting corruption by providing guidelines for such a purpose and including a description of the functions to be undertaken by each of these units. In addition, it has contributed to raising awareness about public sector corruption and has become a key actor for channelling corruption complaints. Still, several challenges lie ahead in the battle against corruption, including ensuring that public managers prioritise the new anti-corruption units, improving co-ordination between the units and the office of the Public Prosecutor, and, finally, ensuring the political will to follow through on the complaints raised. As shown in the table below, only 4.1% of complaints submitted since 2013 resulted in the opening of an administrative investigation (Table 5.1).

Table 5.1. Many complaints are submitted but few investigations are opened
Number and percentage of administrative investigations opened

Year

Number of complaints submitted to SENAC

Number of complaints that resulted in the opening of an administrative investigation

Percentage of the complaints that resulted in the opening of an administrative investigation

2013

58

19

32.8

2014

52

5

9.6

2015

44

0

0

2016

697

11

1.6

Total

851

35

4.1

Source: SENAC, http://www.denuncias.gov.py.

Figure 5.11, Panel A shows that in 2015 slightly more than 70% of the Paraguayan population considered that little or no progress had been achieved in the fight against corruption over the previous two years. While it is still too early to judge the effectiveness of the anti-corruption policy, these results shed light on the importance of maintaining efforts for strengthening, and giving visibility to, the work of SENAC. Additionally, the National Transparency Team (Equipo Nacional de Transparencia) was recently created, as a collective effort bringing together SENAC with several institutions9 for implementing plans to improve the relative position of Paraguay in the perception-based corruption measures; in particular the Corruption Perception Index generated by Transparency International. The National Transparency Team is working on a technical diagnosis on transparency and the creation of an inter-sectoral committee. By this measure, Paraguay ranks in the top third of most corrupt countries for which data are available (87 out of 176 countries or territories). Furthermore, with a score of 30/100, Paraguay is the country with the second lowest score for the benchmark group Figure 5.11, Panel B). The implementations of actions to lower the composite score should lead to a real change of instruments, processes, structures and, ultimately, behaviours rather than to a formalistic response that could influence some of the methodological foundations of the index.

Figure 5.11. Progress has been achieved but there is still a long way to go on the battle against corruption
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Source: Panel A: Latinobarometro (2015), “Datos 2015”, Banco de Datos (dataset), www.latinobarometro.org. Panel B: Transparency International (2016a).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750567

Different public organisations face different operational risks and have different levels of tolerance to risk, given their visibility and political significance. Initiatives such as the National Transparency Team are useful as means of ensuring a whole-of-government approach to the overall goal of fighting corruption. Additionally, knowledge sharing and dialogue spaces are important for highlighting innovations and good practices in integrity management.

Another instance of corruption prevention is the network for transparency and anti-corruption co-ordinated by SENAC comprising more than 82 public agencies. As part of this network the Transparency and Anti-Corruption Units (UTA) within public institutions work with SENAC to monitor government priorities in matters of ethics, integrity, corruption, risk management, citizen participation, access to public information and accountability. In 2017, slightly more than half the institutions submitted their annual plans. The first monitoring process of each plan is expected for the last trimester of the year.

Finally, the role of SENAC is limited to undue behaviours associated mainly with receiving bribes and other forms of embezzlement (i.e. misappropriations or other diversions of property by a public official). But corruption is associated with a broader range of phenomena such as conflict of interest, revolving doors (e.g. movement of people into and out of key policy-making posts in the executive and legislative and regulatory agencies), lobbying and the financing of political campaigns: areas, in which regulation in Paraguay is weak or absent. Recently SENAC approved an accountability manual for public institutions dependent on the executive branch to be implemented by the UTAs. However, an integrated framework encompassing measures to fight the wide array of corrupt practices would be a key asset for further strengthening integrity in Paraguay.

An area where Paraguay has made strides in the fight against corruption is public procurement. In the first place the electronic procurement system, in existence since 2003, ensures that all information (e.g. legal framework; announcement of tenders; calendar of openings, etc.) is available online. Furthermore, since 2005 the Procurement Agency (DNCP) includes as part of its electronic procurement system a whistle-blowing function where anonymous complaints on possible corruption acts occurring during the public procurement process can be made. The identity of the whistle-blower is protected by a mechanism put in place within the system though no specific legal provision exists for this purpose.10

To fully reap the benefits of open government it is required to pro-actively support citizen engagement and the re-use of public information

The National Development Plan (NDP) recognises the Open Government Action Plans as the instruments that will pave the way towards a more open and transparent government. The general open government strategy in Paraguay was conceived as a stand-alone policy and not as part of other policy or strategy. The Technical Secretariat for Planning (STP), through the General Direction of Information for Development, was designated as the institution in charge of co-ordinating the open government strategy and since 2012 Paraguay has been a member of the Open Government Partnership (OGP).11 In the OGP context Paraguay has adopted three action plans. The first was implemented in 2012 mentioning 15 commitments.

The first action plan was evaluated by the independent review mechanism (IRM) on the basis of three criteria: a) relevance to the OGP values; b) a moderate or substantial transformative impact and a substantive or complete level of compliance. According to the IRM from the 15 commitments initially assumed by Paraguay three complied with the criteria mentioned above: i) the development of an integrated system for administrative careers (SICCA) and a public employment web portal (Paraguay Concursa); ii) the implementation of an e-procurement system with an online catalogue; and iii) the exchange information system (SII), linking government institutions through an electronic application. While in general terms the plan was aimed at improving transparency and efficiency in public administration, ensuring access to information and the improvement of public services through the use of information technology and communications (ICT), most of the actions were effectively linked to the development of information systems and substantially less to mechanisms for civic participation and accountability.

To a large extent the first action plan could be considered a pilot exercise for implementing a whole- of-government approach to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption and harness new technologies for strengthening governance. Additionally, it was also useful for disseminating the open government narrative and language across government institutions. However, the plan had a narrow scope (focused mainly on the use of ICT) and encountered a degree of resistance from government institutions that were expected to implement some of the commitments. The lack of incentives for institutions to co-operate and the lack of policy linkages produced a bottleneck to compliance with some of the commitments set out in the strategy and highlighted the need for a greater co-ordination effort to implement a whole-of-government Open Government Strategy.

Following the limited compliance with the first action plan, a special unit for co-ordination of all Open Government initiatives (Dirección General de Gobierno Abierto) was created within the Technical Secretariat for Planning (STP), and the government ratified its commitment to Open Government and Transparency. The action plan for the 2014-16 period was conceived through a participative approach involving 12 government institutions and nine civil society organisations. The second strategy set out nine commitments: five in the areas of transparency, two each in the fields of citizen participation and accountability.

One of the major achievements of the second action plan was the approval in September 2014 of law number 5.282 regarding the free access of citizens to information and government transparency. The law took effect in 2015 and guarantees “free citizen access to public information and governmental transparency” obliging state institutions to disclose information requested by citizens in respect of salaries, official travel, contracts and any information not designated as secret. The regulatory decree was signed in September 2015 and henceforth the law has been valid. The law’s implementation is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice.12 In turn, SENAC has put in place a monitoring mechanism of compliance with disclosure obligations (e.g. active transparency) of executive branch institutions. Making public information available is a first crucial step for promoting transparency, integrity and increasing trust in public institutions. Achieving the benefits pursued by the law would require that citizens and civil society develop ownership and fully exercise their right to know about how public money is spent and many other aspects of public life. As stated in the third Open Government Action Plan (2016-18) the government could play a key role by leading actions to disseminate the law.

In addition, governmental transparency is framed by Law 5.189/2014 establishing the mandatory provision of information on the use of public resources, remuneration and other compensation received by civil servants. The Public Function Secretariat (SFP) is in charge of verifying compliance with this law. Public institutions not complying with the disclosure of information could be subject to fines as stipulated in the law. In 2014 more than 180 institutions were not complying with the disclosure of compensation information but by April 2017 only 28 institutions were considered as non-compliers. An important achievement of the law is the disclosure of compensation information by local governments. For the same reference period (April 2017) 224 out of the 250 municipalities were disclosing their compensation information.

Open data portals are important vehicles for disseminating public information. Paraguay has advanced in this regard by launching an online data portal (www.datos.gov.py) aimed at enabling open access to public data.13 The country ranks fourth among Latin America countries with available information in the OECD Index on Open Government Data (Figure 5.12). The index assesses government efforts to implement open data in three areas: data availability on the national portal; data accessibility; and government’s support to re-use stakeholder engagement on a score of 0 (lowest score) to 1 (best possible score).

Figure 5.12. Promoting the re-usability of public data is an area where improvements could be made
OURdata Index: Open, Useful, Reusable Government Data, 2015
picture

Source: OECD (2016).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750586

The analysis of the subcomponents of the index sheds light on the aspects where improvement is required. While substantial efforts have been made to ensure the availability of public information further efforts could be made to guarantee its accessibility (e.g. user-friendly formats, tools that facilitate access to the information, notifications of updates, etc.) and support its reuse (e.g. increasing open data literacy through information sessions for citizens and businesses, making the release of data part of the performance indicator of organisations, etc). Considerable efforts have been made to enhance openness by making information available; however, challenges remain to tailor public information to citizens’ needs and strengthen accountability mechanisms.

Much progress on other commitments has also been achieved. For example, through decree number 1732/2014, the National Team of Country Strategy (ENEP), which played a fundamental role in the definition of the National Development Plan has been given formal existence as an advisory and consultative body of the national government. Although not including the full spectrum of actors in Paraguayan society, ENEP’s cross-sectoral long-term vision is of fundamental importance supporting inter-institutional dialogue and for setting a long-term vision for the country, especially for complex, multidimensional issues requiring whole-of-government responses.

However, the potential of the Centre of Government (CoG) as a co-ordinating body to deal with such multidimensional issues remains untapped with a continued over-reliance on bilateral communications among relevant government actors as the key decision mechanisms. On a scale of zero (very little co-ordination) to four (strong co-ordination), perception of co-ordination and collaboration between ministries and with the administration in Paraguay scores one (CEPII, 2012). This is significantly below OECD member countries, Latin American countries and the benchmark group. Such a poor performance could be explained by a lack of formal institutionalised channels to discuss relevant horizontal issues with a very strong role for the president as the last instance for decision making. Apart from the Open Government strategy itself there are few examples of cross-governmental policy co-ordination committees. Institutionalising mechanisms to ensure the co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of complex policy initiatives is of the essence in maximising the results of cross-governmental initiatives.

Figure 5.13. There is potential to improve co-ordination across government units
Perception of co-ordination among public institutions, 2012, Index 0-4(strong co-ordination)
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Note: The Institutional Profiles Database provides an original measure of countries’ institutional characteristics through composite indicators built from perception data. The perception data were gathered through a survey completed by country/regional Economic Services (Services économiques) of the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance and the offices of the Agence française de développement.

Source: CEPII (2012), Institutional Profiles Database, www.cepii.fr/institutions/EN/ipd.asp.

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750605

Another area where objectives were set by the second OG action plan was the creation and/or strengthening of 50 municipal development councils. To date the target has been outperformed and more than 100 councils have been set up. Such councils are a space for collaboration between the government, the private sector and civil society in the municipality with the objective of developing and monitoring municipal development plans. The role of these councils is becoming increasingly relevant as the numbers and functions of municipalities have been increasing over time. While still relatively weak in terms of financial resources, municipalities have an important degree of autonomy for using some of their budgetary allocations (e.g. royalties from binational companies) and own-earned resources (e.g. a percentage of the revenue collected from property taxes: according to the law municipalities own 70% of the money collected from land and property taxes while the remaining 30% is split between the departments [15%] and a distribution fund [15%] for lower income municipalities). In addition to identifying local priorities the councils could play an important role for ensuring the articulation and effective co-ordination between national, departmental and local policies that would lead to a multiplier effect in the use of financial resources and therefore has the potential to maximise the effects of public policies.

The third OG action plan establishes ten commitments and 62 subcommitments for the period 2016-18. Some of the commitments build on previous actions to try to maximise their impact (e.g. access to information, open government data, etc.). However, for the first time, this action plan establishes commitments in specific policy areas such as health, education and environment that are framed by targets as stated in the Sustainable Development Goals. Complying with these commitments will require high levels of engagement by government institutions as well as co-ordination across the different agencies and bodies involved. An approach integrating and harmonising different strategies would help to maximise the effect of government actions.

Bringing people on board is essential for spreading out the benefits of development

As part of the cross-cutting lines of action put forward in the NDP, tackling inequality of opportunities is recognised as one of the basic challenges for Paraguay. In this context, the NDP acknowledges the importance of levelling the playing-field so that circumstances such as gender, place of birth, ethnicity and family context will not limit the opportunities available to individuals. The government has made several efforts to increase equality of opportunity, among them a 2016 law protecting women against violence and special provisions for the indigenous population in several public policies.

One of the mechanisms through which governments could influence the chances of succeeding in life is the provision of public services. Those services should meet the expectations of citizens, and citizens’ experiences with front-line public services are expected to have a direct effect on their satisfaction with those services. In Paraguay, satisfaction with several public services is lower than both the OECD and benchmark country average, including the health-care system, the public transportation system, the quality of roads and infrastructure, and the city or area where people live (Figure 5.14, Panel A). However, the share of Paraguayans who are satisfied with the education system is slightly above the OECD average (69% of Paraguayans, compared with 67% in the OECD).

Figure 5.14. Satisfaction with key services and the overall satisfaction with the city/area where people live
picture

Note: The graphs show the percentage and breakdown by categories of people who answered “yes” to the following question. In the area or city where you live are you satisfied with the education system; in the area or city where you live are you satisfied with quality of health care; in the area or city where you live are you satisfied with the public transportation system; in the area or city where you live are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the roads and highways; are you satisfied with the city or area where you live.

Source: Gallup (2017), Gallup World Poll (database).

 StatLink http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/888933750624

Satisfaction with some public services varies by geographical location (see Figure 5.14, Panel B). Satisfaction with health care, public transportation, and the quality of roads and highways is higher in urban than in rural areas. In turn, satisfaction with the city or area where people live is slightly higher in rural (63%) than urban areas (61%). Conversely, satisfaction with the education system is somewhat higher in urban (70%) than in rural areas (68%).

Satisfaction with some key public services tends to be higher by income levels (see Figure 5.14, Panel C). While 75% of the population belonging to the top income quintile report being satisfied with the area or city where they live, only 54% of the bottom income quintile say the same (a 24 percentage points difference). With the exception of the education system (four percentage points) the difference between the top and the bottom income quintiles is about 20 percentage points for all other services considered (i.e. health care, the public transportation system and the quality of roads and infrastructure).

In the case of satisfaction with key public sectors by education level the trend is less clear (see Figure 5.14, Panel D). With the exception of the education system, people with less than tertiary education report lower levels of satisfaction than those who have completed tertiary education. Nevertheless, in almost all cases (apart from overall satisfaction with the city or area where they live) those in the intermediary category (less than tertiary education) report the highest satisfaction with public services on average with scores above those of people who completed tertiary education. While these results appear to be counterintuitive, they could be explained by higher expectations from this segment of the population on the quality of services they should be receiving. A similar argument has been made by Boidi and Zechmeister (2015) to explain the decline over time in the satisfaction with health and education services in Paraguay. Overall, satisfaction with health care, public transportation and the quality of roads and highways in Paraguay is comparatively low. In turn, people in rural areas are less satisfied than those living in cities. Similarly, people in the highest income quintile reported, on average, higher satisfaction levels than people in the lowest one.

Improving overall satisfaction with key public services is a major challenge for Paraguay. Even more so in the cases of groups with fewer advantages (e.g. people located in rural areas and in the bottom income group) for whom a differentiated approach could be required. Satisfaction with public services could be influenced by several elements such as good timing in the provision of services, geographical proximity, consistency in provision, perceived quality, affordability and matching of special needs, among others. A comprehensive assessment of the factors underlying low satisfaction with services in Paraguay is required fully to explain these results and develop strategies for improvement.

More and better statistical evidence is required to inform the development of policies

To reap fully the benefits of reforms undertaken by the Paraguayan government a strong basis of high-quality evidence is required. In this context, the production of statistics is essential to monitoring progress and achieving development targets. Furthermore, statistics are crucial to providing an environment of evidence-based decision making and to holding governments accountable for their activities. The assessment and modernisation of the Paraguayan National Statistical System (NSS) could therefore constitute a major step in this direction. Currently, the production and dissemination of official statistics in Paraguay are shared among several entities of the NSS.

  • The Directorate General of Statistics, Surveys, and Censuses (DGEEC), through the Decree-Law 11.126 of 1942, reorganises and co-ordinates the statistical services of the Republic of Paraguay. Under this law, the DGEEC is the main statistical agency, which has the responsibility of co-ordinating and integrating all official statistical activities as well as ensuring consistency and harmonisation of statistical standards, concepts, definitions and adoption of classifications in some subjects and focuses mostly on the production of income, demographic and social basic statistics and indicators, mainly unemployment and poverty. The DGEEC is part of the presidency and under the responsibility of the Ministry of Economic Social Development and Technical Planning (STP). Decree 3087 of the law mentions the organic and functional autonomy of the DGEEC.

  • The Central Bank of Paraguay (BCP) operates under the Law 489/1995, Charter of the Central Bank of Paraguay, which establishes the obligations of public and private entities to co-operate with the BCP for the preparation and publication of macroeconomic statistics. The law guarantees the statistical confidentiality of information provided to the BCP. This is an autonomous technical institution that has independence in its choice of data sources, methods, and data dissemination policies, within the limits of available resources. Processes and activities in the workplace ensure a culture that promotes institutional integrity. The BCP has recently set up a transparency portal where people can ask for information and the BCP has the obligation to respond within a period of 15 days.14

  • The Ministry of Finance (MoF), under the Law 1.535/99 on financial administration, has the right to request information from various public institutions and establishes provisions related to the procedures for preparation of the government accounting system, the requirement of submitting reports, and the confidentiality of information. The Ministry of Finance produces government finance statistics (GFS) on an impartial basis, based on a culture of professional independence. While the terms and conditions for preparing and reporting budget execution data are known to the public, the terms and conditions under which GFS are compiled are not. In the MoF and BCP, rules provide clear guidelines on staff behaviour and administrative procedures, which are made known to the staff.

  • The Civil Status Registry, through the Civil Status Registry’s Office, is the organism in charge of recording the vital facts and vital acts of individuals during their lifetime, according to the law. The registry has more than 480 local offices located in zones where it is considered necessary. It is a dependency of the Ministry of Justice.

  • Many line ministries are also responsible for statistical operations to generate indicators. Such is the case of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, and the Ministry of Public Works and Communications. Commonly data is collected by ministries through administrative records that are not harmonised between institutions. In many instances, the DGEEC is not always involved in these data collection activities and does not have a programme for reviewing the quality of administrative data.

Overall, the production of statistics for the period 2013-17 is by the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS). Indeed, while the BCP is focused on macroeconomic statistics and the MoF on government finance statistics, the main data collection activity across the NSS is the permanent household survey, Encuesta Permanente de Hogares (EPH) at the national level conducted by the DGEEC. The survey focuses mainly on employment and income but also collects data on education, health, ownership of durable goods, ICT and in some years also migration patterns. In turn, the latest population census was conducted in 2012 though it achieved only 74.4% coverage and therefore could not be validated as representative of the Paraguayan population. DGEEC concluded that the indicators needed for the preparation of projections were consistent with their historical trends and therefore usable. Finally, the DGEEC also conducts one-off, or specific, surveys. For instance, it has carried out a survey on governance (2009), an economic census (2010), a survey on children and adolescents (2011), a survey on micro, small, medium sized and big enterprises (2015).

In respect of economic statistics the country has improved the production of economic aggregates, based on the System of National Accounts, 1993 (SNA,1993), by increasing coverage but is still struggling to provide up-to-date data, particularly for the quarterly national accounts. The same applies to the monthly index of economic activity. In the case of other indicators such as the consumer price Index (CPI) and tax statistics the coverage is also limited. More generally, many sectors are not well covered by data production in Paraguay, such as manufacturing and services15 and there are no industrial production surveys.16 In terms of monetary policy, there are no employment data with the necessary frequency required to inform the design of labour policies, although the DGEEC collects a quarterly labour force survey for Asunción and Central department.

While the methodologies used for the generation of statistics in Paraguay are broadly consistent with internationally accepted standards, guidelines, or best practices, Paraguay is not compliant17 with IMF Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) for the provision of economic and financial data to the public. Since March 2017, Paraguay is the second country in Latin America to implement the recommendations of the e-GDDS. Compliance with those standards is important in two different ways: on the one hand by enhancing the availability of relevant and comprehensive statistics required to underlie sound macroeconomic policies; on the other as guidance for countries having international credits or wanting to access multilateral funding mechanisms. At the regional level, Paraguay is a signatory to the regional Code of Good Practice in Statistics in Latin America and the Caribbean (CEA/ECLAC) which aims to improve the quality of statistical output and build trust in national statistical institutes and enhance the comparability of regional statistics.

Improving the generation of high quality statistics would require overcoming several bottlenecks currently faced by the statistical system. For a start, co-ordination18 of the NSS by the DGEEC with the BCP, line ministries and other data producers could be strengthened. There is a need to update the statistics law to assign clearly responsibilities among data-producing agencies19 and for co-ordinating them, and respond to the national and international challenges of official statistics (e.g. new data sources and non-governmental producers) Procedures for data-sharing and co-ordination within the MoF and between the MoF and other data-producing agencies could also be improved. In turn, Paraguay could benefit highly from a regular mechanism for enhancing intersectoral data consistency in the form of a statistical council20 as a high-level forum including representatives from key stakeholders (e.g. suppliers, producers and users) for promoting and developing official statistical activity at the national level. Ensuring that the NSS has sufficient human and financial resources21 is essential for moving ahead in the development of high quality statistics in Paraguay.

Another area where improvement is required is the consistency and coverage of official statistics. Some examples could illustrate these issues. In the case of the education sector similar data are produced by several producers. On the one hand, the Ministry of Education through the education management information system (EMIS) sponsored by UNESCO generates education indicators. On the other, the permanent household survey (Encuesta Permanente de Hogares) as well as multiple indicator cluster surveys (MICS) collected by DGEEC and several ministries of health collect similar information. In turn, the existence of different sources has resulted in misreporting. The second example, concerns the Ministry of Justice which oversees civil registration (UNICEF, 2016). In spite of the major progress achieved over the past years still 15% of births in Paraguay are still not registered, especially amongst the indigenous population. Involving the DGEEC in the development of data collection activities and methodologies could contribute to overcoming these challenges. Finally, a third area calling for further action is the timing of official statistics. For example, the quarterly national accounts and the monthly index of economic activities are often published with delays.

The updating of the statistical system through an appropriate legal framework, and its co-ordination could bring great benefits to Paraguay. The implementation of the Recommendation of the OECD Council on good statistical practice could assist the country in this endeavour. In addition to improving the evidence base for policy making and supporting efforts towards transparency it would also contribute to the reporting of the national and international agenda, especially the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), an area where the DGEEC is expected to take a leading role but where it could require additional help.

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Notes

← 1. The statistical data for Israel are supplied by and under the responsibility of the relevant Israeli authorities. The use of such data by the OECD is without prejudice to the status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and Israeli settlements in the West Bank under the terms of international law.

← 2. A liberal conception of democracy is measured through questions as to whether: i) opposition parties are free to criticise the government; ii) elections are free and fair; iii) voters can discuss politics freely; iv) political parties provide a differentiated offer; v) governing parties are punished when they perform poorly; vi) governments explain their decisions to voters; vii) media are free to criticise the government; viii) rights of minority groups are protected; ix) the media provide reliable information to judge the government; and x) the courts treat everyone fairly.

← 3. The code of judicial organisation, law 871 of 1981 sets out the composition of the judicial branch and establishes that the administration of justice is the responsibility of: a) the Supreme Court of Justice; b) the Court of Accounts; c) the Courts of Appeal; c) the Courts of first instance; d) the civil and commercial courts and e) the Courts of Peace.

← 4. The Judicial Council is composed of a member of the Supreme Court of Justice appointed by it; a representative of the executive branch; a senator and deputy both nominated by their respective chambers of parliament; two members of the Lawyers School (Colegio de Abogados) appointed by their peers in direct election; a law professor of the National University (Public University) chosen by his/her peers and a law professor of the private universities with at least 20 years of experience; chosen by his/her peers.

← 5. Prior to the 1992 constitution the executive was in charge of appointing judges and magistrates of the different courts; clearly affecting their independence. The 1992 constitution determined that ministers of the Supreme Court would be appointed by the senate with approval from the executive from a group of three candidates prepared by the Superior Council of the Judiciary (SCJ). High levels of co-operation are required between the Supreme Court and the SCJ, such as collaborating to select a shortlist of candidates.

← 6. The question included in Latinobarometer is the following: ¿Ha sabido ud o algún pariente de algún acto de corrupción en los últimos 12 meses? (Have you or a relative known of an act of corruption in the last 12 months?).

← 7. Some of the initiatives for fighting corruption are the National Anti-Corruption Plan, the National Plan for Integrity, the Threshold Programme (Programa Umbral) phases I and II and other measures.

← 8. Among the many initiatives on this matter, internal control and integrity systems have been created (e.g. the Standard Model of Internal Control of Paraguayan Public Entities, MECIP), the executive branch ethics system and the inter-institutional anti-corruption network are being strengthened.

← 9. The institutions integrating the National Transparency Team are the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Industry and Trade, Technical Secretariat of Planning, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, and the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, the Central Bank and the national customs office).

← 10. The OECD 2009 Anti-Bribery recommendation defines whistle-blower protection as the legal protection from discriminatory or disciplinary action for employees who disclose to the competent authorities in good faith and on reasonable grounds wrongdoing in the context of their workplace.

← 11. The Open Government Partnership is a multilateral initiative that aims to secure concrete commitments from governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. In the spirit of multi-stakeholder collaboration, OGP is overseen by a steering committee including representatives of governments and civil society organisations. To become a member of the OGP, participating countries must endorse a high-level Open Government Declaration, deliver a country action plan developed with public consultation, and commit to independent reporting on their progress going forward. In total, 75 OGP participating countries and 15 subnational governments have made over 2 500 commitments to make their governments more open and accountable.

← 12. The ministry supervises the implementation of the law through the Public Information Access Office, which is in charge of a Unified Web Site for Public Information (Portal Unificado de Acceso a la Información Pública: www.informacionpublica.gov.py), the unique and centralised technological platform for access and management of the Public Information fulfilling the national legal requirements. This website has been in effect since 18 September 2015. To date, 5 522 requests for public information have been submitted. There are 117 public offices incorporated in the website; this represents 26.53% of the complete universe for public offices. Furthermore, the Ministry of Justice conducts training for public officers, students and citizens all over the country.

← 13. The Central Data Portal has been developed by the ICT ministry and is funded through international co-operation with USAID.

← 14. Yet, in some cases data requests cannot be supplied (e.g., data at the company level). Metadata posted on national websites are not easily available for most datasets, and the metadata posted on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) had not been updated since November 2004, despite significant changes made in the compilation and dissemination processes for most datasets during the past ten years.

← 15. The BCP elaborates the unit value indices of imports and exports, but they are not publicly available.

← 16. The BCP uses administrative records from the Ministry of Finance and volume information it can collect (oil, meat, non-metal industries, metal products (steel for construction, etc.).

← 17. Plans are currently under development in the BCP to be compliant with the IMF SDDS and the country is currently implementing the IMF’s enhanced General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), a framework designed by the IMF to assist countries with relatively weak statistical capacity with an emphasis on data dissemination in the e-GDDS to support transparency, encourage statistical development, and help create strong synergies between data dissemination and surveillance.

← 18. Insufficient co-ordination of the NSS could lead to duplication of efforts and waste of resources. For example, in addition to the poverty surveys conducted by the DGEEC, other poverty surveys are also conducted and their results as criteria for participating at the conditional cash transfer program (Tekopora). Furthermore, it is common that line ministries and other agencies produce their own statistics with diverse methodologies and varying degree of consistency over time.

← 19. The current statistical legislation dates back to1942 and does not comply with the UN Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. It states the need for this co-ordination but in practice it remains very limited. Moreover, the law mandates respondent participation in censuses and surveys but is not enforced A bill aiming to reinforce the leading and guiding role of DGEEC has been submitted to the parliament.

← 20. The current legal framework stipulates that a statistical council should be in place and indicates the institutions that take part in it; however, the institutional setting has not been updated and currently is not working. Poverty and population committees where methodological issues are discussed and changes on the main indicators are analysed meet regularly.

← 21. The lack of funding is one of the reasons of the partial implementation of the current NSDS (National Strategy for the Development of Statistics) as well as the delay in some data collection activities despite governmental efforts to support the production of statistics. Paraguay has relied on external support for conducting surveys and censuses. For example, the latest census in 2012 was 70% funded (USD 12.5 million) through a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).