Does public finance reform help address conflict in fragile states?
Speaker: Tobias Haque, PhD candidate, DPA
International institutions invest heavily in public finance reform in post-conflict countries, as a means of supporting social order through better service delivery and economic outcomes. The assumed positive relationship between public finance reform and social order has been subject to little empirical examination and is increasingly challenged by new theoretical and empirical literature.
Join PhD candidate Tobias Haque as he presents a summary of his PhD thesis findings, which explore this issue.
The research examines the impacts of major public finance reform initiatives on social order in three low-income, post-conflict settings (Solomon Islands over 2003-2014, Timor-Leste over 2000-2015, and Afghanistan over 2001-2021). The thesis utilises Mushtaq Khan’s ‘political settlements’ framework to show that in each case, efforts to reform public finance institutions weakened the capacity of political elites to distribute public sector rents to powerful actors, contributing to disorder and conflict pressures.
The findings highlight important incompatibilities between established development practice and the conflict mitigation objectives pursued by international development agencies working in fragile country settings.