The South African National Treasury has just put on its web site all the papers that were completed during a two-year project that I was involved in (along with a long list of other economists and social scientists). The papers run the whole gamut from straightforward research exercises to detailed policy recommendations. If you want a summary of the main results and recommendations, read this piece by Ricardo Hausmann.
In the press statement accompanying the release of these papers, the Treasury notes:
The research papers do not necessarily reflect government’s views, nor has government adopted or rejected any of the recommendations made by the Panel. Government also notes that there is no universal recipe or set of policies for a successful growth strategy. Whilst government has been debating, and will continue to debate the issues raised in the research, the process of responding to the papers and recommendations will benefit from a broader public debate. At their last meeting with members of Cabinet on 19 July 2007, the President requested that the papers should be made public to encourage a broader debate on shared growth. It is with this objective in mind that the papers are now being released for further dissemination by the public in general and the economic community in particular.
To facilitate the broader debate, Government is planning a major workshop on the report, between the international panel, government officials, local academics and economists, policy researchers and various stakeholders. This workshop is planned for 17 or 18 June 2008 (subject to confirmation). It is hoped that this workshop will also encourage local economists and academics to prepare response papers in order to stimulate the broader public debate. In this respect, economic departments at SA universities and research institutions will be encouraged to convene workshops later in the year on various aspects raised in the research papers, where such local papers can be presented.
This effort to distill the outsiders' views through the experience and knowledge of locals is extremely important and it is exactly what should happen whenever a government asks foreigners for advice. I am happy that the South Africans are following this approach.
Of course, I will be also very happy if they ultimately find our recommendations of some use!