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Theme 4: Public Service Delivery, Public-Private Partnership and Regulatory Reform
This theme is composed of three interdependent elements that express two main elements of "governance": the State and the Private Sector. This relationship is bound by the regulatory policies and all relate to the "public" that consumes the products of the State and the private sector. It is for the well being of that "public" that governments exist.

In the Arab region, a strategic shift of governance paradigms is becoming more evident. The traditional and historic relationship between the "ruler", as overall provider and protector, and the "ruled" as acquiescing groups and individuals, has taken a new shape with the advent of democracy in some and the deepening of its roots in others. The "public" no longer perceives itself "at the service of the ruler", but rather the ruler is expected to serve the public. The role of the State is evolving, so is the relationship between the components of the society. "Governance" will continue to change as democratic principles take root in Arab societies at large.

The market economy that is now espoused by most Arab countries is creating a new environment as the role of State as "provider" is gradually diminishing and is being replaced by the State as "regulator" and "arbitrator" through policies and rule setting and the private sector as the engine of growth and development. Globalization is a further impetus and an important factor in governance. Partnership between the State and the private sector is therefore, necessary for sound economic management. Simultaneously with these developments and with the advent of the age of knowledge and swift information dissemination, the public is becoming savvy in demanding higher quality and timely public services. The ability of the community to express its views is becoming stronger through the activities of civil society organizations.

Arab governments need to diagnose these new realities to assess their response to them and to devise such policies and actions that may allow for solid partnerships with the private sector, the civil society organizations and to better serve an increasingly demanding public. Regulatory reform need to ensure that these relationships and the delivery of public services will enhance integrity, increase transparency and strengthen the system and process of accountability. The reform of the regulatory process should lead to a system of regulation that takes account of the growing interdependence of the public and private sectors and the growing role and impact of globalization. The government's relationship with international and regional institutions affecting the market and regulating international business transactions, trade, industrial and agricultural policies, are all important factors that require the reform of the regulatory process. Old rules of business should be discarded and new and dynamic ones should be in place. The pace of international transactions has quickened, so should the response of business regulations. This ties well with all the reform of governance in general; there is really no line of demarcation that separates reform in one area from reform in another; all themes of the Governance for Development Programme are intrinsically connected and mutually reinforcing.

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Theme Highlight

This Framework for Policy Dialogue includes priority issues gleaned from international experience in order to serve as a guide for policy discussion. Working Groups in Arab countries may find them useful; countries may change or add their own priority issues.

See also the Results and Recommendations of this Panel's meeting during the Dead Sea Conference 6-7 February 2005.