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Round-Up

A QUESTION OF JUSTICE

For many Latin Americans, contact with their countries' legal systems can be an unpleasant experience involving long delays, extensive case backlogs, limited access, and lack of transparency and predictability.

According to one distinguished Peruvian jurist, a person in pre-trial detention who has no attorney may never even get a verdict: "Someone else has to move the case, for the judge will not."

But the impact of Latin America's judicial problems extends beyond the world of courts and judges. In Justice Delayed, leading authorities on law and economics from Latin America and the United States show how the future of the region's democratic institutions will depend on impartial and reliable systems of justice. They describe how judicial reforms are the key to resolving issues such as modernization of the law, protection of fundamental rights, the struggle against corruption and controlling violence.

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BUDGET REFORMS

As the role of the state in Latin America changes, and an increasingly vocal citizenry demands greater governmental transparency, pressure is on to increase the efficiency of the public sector. At the same time, governments must carry out programs that voters want and respond to pressures from lobbying interests and civil society groups.

Lying at the heart of much of this issue is the budget. In his book "Presupuesto y Control" (Budget and Oversight), Argentine economist Humberto Petrei takes a detailed look at the budget process in six Latin American and seven industrialized countries. He concludes that budgets in Latin America for the most part are focused on inputs, an approach that must be replaced by programs that emphasize outputs and are oriented to providing goods and services.

An English edition of "Presupuesto y Control" will appear later this year.

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