Unemployment rates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region are among the highest in the world, especially for young graduates. Policy recommendations to date in the field of governance for private sector policymaking have been too general and too removed from concrete, actionable policy outcomes. This report presents, for the first time to fill this policy and operational gap by answering the following question: what good governance features should be instilled in the design of economic policies and institutions to help shield them from capture, discretion, and arbitrary implementation? The report presents an innovative conceptual framework that encapsulates the governance features that can shield policies from capture, discretion, and arbitrary enforcement that limits competition. Based on this framework, a check-list of policy features in a wide range of policy areas relevant to private sector development policy is presented, notably in terms of: (i) the process of policy-making (ex-ante); (ii) the actual policies, regulations, and their implementation (for example, business regulations, procurement, financing, trade); and (iii) competition policy and other attributes like open-business and transparency measures that help identify, and prevent or deter anti-competitive market behavior and outcomes (ex-post). The report benchmarks eight countries along the framework and checklist of indicators, pointing, for each country, to policy gaps and poor governance features that make these countries prone to capture and discretion. The report offers a menu of operational and technical entry-points to engage the capture agenda in a concrete way, one that may be more politically tractable in some of the client countries.
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