OECD Public Governance Ministerial Meeting

Martti Hetemäki: Governance policy and inclusive growth

Permanent Secretary Martti HetemäkiThe OECD Public Governance Ministerial Meeting will be held in Helsinki on Wednesday 28 October, chaired by Minister Anu Vehviläinen. The theme of the meeting is both topical and very challenging. A new vision for the public sector is to be based on the role of governance policy in inclusive growth. What we are largely concerned with is how we can achieve fair and just, and even stronger and more sustainable economic growth through inclusive planning of policy actions.

Recent developments in the OECD countries have increased social inequality, which is why the OECD has taken up this topical theme. Some of the people are doing very well, while the others are not. The various elements of wellbeing, such as education, life expectancy and employment opportunities, are determined on unequal grounds, depending on socioeconomic position, sex, age and place of residence. Typically this kind of development has shaken the very foundations of market economy and growth, as well as eroded the citizens’ trust in public sector.

In the preparation documents for the meeting the OECD points out that, in order to enable growth, the broader factors of wellbeing in the society must be placed at the heart of economic policy. Inclusive growth requires decision-making that rests on a better knowledge base than we have at present. All this requires a whole-of-government approach , competence of various stakeholders and knowledge-based preparation. It is also important to make sure that the voice of the weaker will not be drowned out by the voice of the powerful and well-organised  interest groups.

Besides policy design it is also important to draw attention to accountability. Among other issues the ministerial meeting will also discuss the possibilities for even better assessment of the impacts of strategies and measures, both in advance and afterwards. How else could we know what works and what does not, and what are the impacts of the various solutions on different groups of people or operating conditions of organisations.

All these challenges and questions are very well known for us Finns, too. We have worked on advancing these issues and there is still a lot of work to be done. It is important to find the best possible means to support growth and indicators with the best match for monitoring this. We do not need many indicators if we can find the right ones. There certainly is room for simplification and clarification in this, both in Finland and elsewhere. Hopefully the meeting will open up new perspectives in this regard as well.

Martti Hetemäki

Permanent Secretary