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    Reforming Social Services: Towards Development and Prosperity

    Cities like Gilbert, Phoenix, and Nogales in Arizona (AZ) have been fortunate enough to gain access to excellent public services. These places have a good education curriculum in elementary school, a working healthcare system, accountability in government, among others. Meanwhile, just south of their border, in Mexico, the situation can be improved. Services remain rusty, and public health is nowhere near as good. Here’s why social services must be reformed in a country.

    Need for developed social services

    In a healthy democratic society, efficient social services are a must. People must be able to have access to services for their basic needs. It is essential that those who are put into power can deliver on the services needed by their constituents. Democracy does not end in the voting booth; hence, other essential factors like access to services must also be upheld.

    When government institutions are weak, the delivery of public services becomes hindered. Funds are not used for the improvement of certain services, making them half-baked and inefficient, failing to meet the goals for development and prosperity. The lack of access to these services, or their failures, has also contributed to the prevalence of poverty in some states. Innovations are also repressed, seen as threats to existing utilities and services rather than as opportunities for development.

    The imperatives of reform

    Considering the premises, social welfare services must be reformed at the institutional level. It is at the level of the institution, after all, where mechanisms to create a better environment for a country’s citizens are installed for the long haul. Government officials must be open to the public on their financial connections and business interests. Transparency in bidding processes for procurements and projects is also important. Through such mechanisms, the management of public funds is kept in full view of the constituency, helping to ensure accountability and responsibility.

    Also, more care and thought should be adopted in electing politicians and bureaucrats. There should be measures imposed against nepotism and favoritism in selecting career officials. Otherwise, government institutions responsible for the delivery of essential services will remain in the hands of those with vested interests. Furthermore, there is a need to ensure that elections are clean and fair, meaning that the incumbent has a realistic chance of losing, and the challenger always has a realistic chance of winning. These reforms are necessary so people can have a better say over who governs them.

    Role of the private sector

    Social services in high-growth developing countries have been found to have a public-private mix, particularly in education and health services. The government initially builds the foundation and infrastructure of these services, and the private sector brings innovations and productivity in ensuring better resource allocation, management of programs, and delivery to the constituents. Non-government organizations (NGOs) and aid agencies are active participants in improving social services.

    For the achievement of development and the elimination of poverty, reforms of institutions are a must. Without such reforms, the cycle of substandard delivery of social services will continue and hinder any chances and opportunities for the future. The challenge now is to mainstream these reforms in a system wherein the politicians and bureaucrats are held to their promises of honesty and change during their election campaign.

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