Author Archives: John Zemko

Mobile App Gives Investors Instant Access to Corporate Governance Information

App demonstration, watch the full video on the website here.

The recently launched Elapedia app gives investors around the world instant access to corporate governance practices at 100 publically listed companies in the four Pacific Alliance countries (Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru). The free Spanish-language app, which relies on publically available data, provides information about boards’ policies related to managing conflicts of interest, risk management, and other topics of interest to investors.

“Until now, there was no easy way to compare information on corporate governance between Pacific Alliance countries,” said Andrew Wilson, CIPE managing director. “With this useful tool, investors can quickly become informed on corporate governance requirements. It’s a way to access that information without having to dig through multiple sources. This app will be a huge benefit to large companies looking to invest, put up a subsidiary or buy a company in Pacific Alliance countries.”

The Elapedia app, which was supported by CIPE and developed by Governance Consultants S.A., represents an important step toward the economic and commercial integration of Pacific Alliance countries. By efficiently harmonizing corporate governance practices, the app will greatly improve the flow of investments and help to strengthen Latin American economies.

Established in 2011, the Pacific Alliance’s goals include establishing the free movement of goods, services and people; driving economic growth; and overcoming socioeconomic inequality. Pacific Alliance countries have made significant progress toward improving standards for corporate governance by fulfilling requirements set forth by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Wilson said.

“With this user-friendly app, CIPE hopes to provide a valuable public service in line with one of our key focus areas—encouraging good corporate governance,” Wilson said. “Good corporate governance is critical to the integrity of business operations and to the overall institutional health of countries because it creates demand for better public governance and prevents devastating economic failures. The Elapedia app is intended to promote transparency and accountability, level the playing field, and encourage the disclosure or elimination of conflicts of interest.”

The Elapedia App can be downloaded for free from the App Store.

John Zemko is the Regional Director for Latin America & the Caribbean at CIPE. 

The Role of the Presidential Debate in Macri’s Argentina Election Victory

argentina-debate-second

This post has been updated on December 17, 2015.

What a difference a month can make!  During Argentina’s first presidential candidate debate in October, Daniel Scioli, the Peronist government party candidate, appeared to be a shoo-in with voters. A month later at the November debate held at the University of Buenos Aires Law School the tables were completely turned. Mauricio Macri, representing the opposition voice of market friendly change had now become the favorite to win the election. What happened?

The role of the presidential debates—the first in Argentine history (see my previous post on the first debate which talks about this CIPE supported initiative)—is difficult to quantify. What we can see is that Scioli paid a heavy political price for not participating in October’s debate. The other candidates made constant references during the debate to the empty podium that referenced his absence. The press also excoriated Scioli’s last minute decision to not participate.

Read More…

Will Argentina’s First-Ever Presidential Debate Help Change Politics for the Better?

Candidates at the October 4 debate, with an empty podium for incumbent Daniel Scioli, who dropped out of the debate. (Photo: AP)

Candidates at the October 4 debate, with an empty podium for incumbent Daniel Scioli, who dropped out of the debate. (Photo: AP)

When the lights went down and the countdown to going live on the air began, everyone in the room knew they were witnessing history — the first ever debate among presidential candidates in Argentina.

It was a long, hard negotiation process that brought the candidates to the debate table. The debate was not without its flaws. The biggest of course was the decision of the leading candidate, Daniel Scioli, representing the current governing party (the Front for Victory), to not attend even after participating in all the negotiations leading up to the debate. Still, the room was electric and the audience complied with all the rules they were asked to abide by, including refraining from clapping or cheering for their favorite candidate.

The five candidates who did participate (Mauricio Macri, Sergio Massa, Margaret Stolbizer, Adolfo Rodriguez Saá and Nicolás del Caño) took advantage of the empty lectern representing the missing candidate, faulting him for disrespecting them and the people of Argentina by his failure to show up.

Read More…

Venezuela’s Steady Decline

store-empty-shelves

To anyone who has traveled frequently to Venezuela, the deterioration of the country is palpable. By day, people fear driving and getting stuck in traffic because motorcycle thugs will tap on their window, show a gun, and demand the handover of cell phones and cash. By night it is worse: going out on the town could involve robbery, kidnapping, and risk of death, so the streets are empty on Friday and Saturday nights in a city that previously boasted an active nightlife.

Shopping is another sad tale — commercial malls show a lack of maintenance, and stores have little merchandise. The common refrain you hear everywhere is “no hay,” or “there aren’t any.” You hear that when asking for anything from cell phones to toilet paper. You hear it in restaurants, too, where chefs somehow manage to figure out how to cook without basic staples such as cooking oil or flour.

If you can even get an airline ticket to Venezuela—international carriers are prevented from taking their profits out of the country, so they are curtailing flights—you will find prices depend entirely on the exchange rate you are able to obtain. If you change money at official rates you will pay $25 for a sandwich and a cup of coffee. If you are lucky enough to obtain the parallel exchange rate—which is running upwards of 10 ten times the official rate—the same meal will cost you $2.50.

How do Venezuelans cope with living this way? There are significant segments of society that still support the government of Nicolás Maduro despite its inability or unwillingness to tackle the huge economic problems the country faces, and which they have mostly caused.  As the economy worsens, however, it seems unlikely that even the poorest segments of Venezuelan society who supported Hugo Chavez and now Maduro will continue to provide that support.

Read More…

Entrepreneurship Stories from Peru

 

peru blog photo

Recently I attended a meeting of graduates from the CIPE sponsored EmprendeAhora program run by Instituto Invertir in Peru, who gathered to develop an alumni network that can continue to help them with their new businesses (we have featured blogs on this very successful program). Seeing these 60 youths work diligently toward establishing an ongoing network using their personal time and resources was inspiring enough, but probably the most impressive aspects of the event were some of the personal stories I heard. Margarita Calle has one of those stories to tell and I would like to share it with you here:

“My way of being and seeing the world completely changed between 2011 and 2012. I was studying economics at the National Central University of Peru in Huancayo, and my short-term goal at that time was to apply for a job in a private firm or in the public sector, and to find a ‘good’ job that would allow for my professional development while working to establish my career. This plan was based on working for someone and finding happiness in it, which is the path that society usually persuades us to take.

Read More…

Paraguay’s First Presidential Debate a Milestone for Latin America

paraguay debate

On Sunday night, CIPE partner Democracy in Development (DENDE) pulled off a victory for democracy in Paraguay that surpassed their own expectations: the first true presidential debate in the country.

Not only did all four leading presidential candidates participate, the debate was broadcast over the six principal television networks in the country, as well as on 150 commercial radio stations and more than 500 community radio stations. No debate on this scale has happened before in Paraguay, and probably not in all of Latin America.

DENDE was not alone in pulling off this event. Its principal partner in country was the Center for Regulations, Norms and Studies of Communication (CERNECO). The event has been a year and a half in the making and was preceded by series of grassroots organizing events in forums for the business, social and political sectors of the country. Through these forums and the citizen surveys that DENDE conducted, a policy framework was developed to guide the political, economic, and social priorities for the country and which helped steer the debates.

Read More…

Inauguration Day in Venezuela

chavez-photo

The presidential inauguration in Venezuela has come and gone and President Chavez was a no-show, still presumably recuperating from a post-operative respiratory infection after his fourth surgery to “remove malignant cells” from his pelvic area. In reality, little is officially known about his actual medical condition and whether he will ever be able to return and reclaim the presidency. He has not been seen in public since December 11.

Until Wednesday’s decision by the Venezuelan Supreme Court, the lack of information about what would happen on inauguration day left Venezuelans unsettled. Police and military were in the streets of Caracas to fend off any disturbances that might occur.

Unsurprisingly, the court ruled in favor of viewing the inauguration as a formality and saw no legal obstacle to Chavez continuing as head of state for an unspecified period of time. The decision provoked an outcry from opposition forces that claimed a rupture in constitutional democracy in the country. However, former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles accepted the decision calmly, claiming that the opposition “can’t be seen as trying to gain via a technicality what we have yet to achieve via the vote.”

Read More…