In Ukraine, thousands of companies are still owned and operated by the government — a legacy of Soviet central planning that bleeds money from the already strained state budget. With the country in economic crisis, there have been renewed calls for Ukraine to speed up its privatization process and sell these firms to private owners who can restructure them and run them more efficiently.
Ukraine’s former Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Aivara Abromavicius, recently made a well-reasoned argument for faster privatization on the Atlantic Council’s blog. Similarly, the IMF has also urged Ukraine to speed up the pace of privatization.
However, focusing on the pace rather than the quality of privatization will likely result in a botched privatization process — which will undermine the little bit of faith Ukrainians have left in the free market and state institutions, potentially leading to the growth of populist movements and destabilizing the current government.
Ukrainian state-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain a drag on the national budget. They serve as incubators for corruption and gray market deals and in some cases serve as piggy banks for Ukrainian politicians. While I agree with Abromavicius that “simplicity, clarity, and transparency,” must be maintained in order to successfully privatize Ukrainian state owned enterprises, his concept of creating a simplified privatization procedure (without advisers) through an online auction of over 1,000 smaller SOEs will likely lead to public anger over a process that would surely enrich insiders.
Without independent advisors overseeing the due diligence process and hiring independent auditors, bidders will not have transparent access to information about the companies listed. This would, in effect, be like buying from an unrated seller on eBay with only a vague description of what is for sale – something that would not inspire confidence in potential buyers.
A lack of independent advisors–and the transparency and investor assurances they would bring to an auction—can lead to lower realized prices for the Ukrainian government, attracting only those bidders with inside knowledge of the true status of the enterprises for sale.
Participants at the Nangarhar PBA launch event.
A year after the impasse over the 2014 presidential election was resolved, Afghanistan finds itself at a critical juncture in its economic development. Given the dramatic reduction in foreign military presence over the past several years and the decrease in development assistance from the international donor community, concerns are mounting that Afghanistan’s economy will be unable to sustain itself.
A recent study published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) draws attention to the problem. “In its current state,” the report notes, “the Afghan private sector is not the engine of economic growth or instrument of social inclusion it has the potential to be. Popular dissatisfaction with unequal access to economic resources, flawed public services and goods, the adverse security situation, and predatory government activity undermine an effective and sustainable private sector.”
President Ashraf Ghani and the National Unity Government have laid out a wide range of proposals to kickstart economic development, but security conditions and political infighting have made it difficult to implement many of these reforms. Nevertheless, hope for progress and success remains. The Swedish report, while painting a grim picture of the current outlook, provides a concrete set of recommendations to Afghan government policymakers, the international donor community, and other key stakeholders, for incentivizing private sector growth and boosting economic development, thereby improving prospects for peace and stability.
Chief among these recommendations is the need for the Afghan private sector to play a greater role in the policy making process. On October 28, over a hundred leaders of the Afghan business community, civil society, and media, as well as prominent provincial and national government figures, convened in Jalalabad for the official launch of the report of the Nangarhar Provincial Business Agenda.
After years of consultation, discussion, and debate, the sustainable development goals (SDGs) that will guide development efforts for the foreseeable future are close to becoming a reality — meaning a global commitment to end poverty in all its forms everywhere and eliminating extreme poverty entirely by 2030. But one crucial question remains: how to pay for it all?
The Financing for Development (FfD) conference met in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia earlier this month to try to reach an agreement on the right mix of development aid, taxes, loans, trade, and private investment to pay for the ambitious agenda set out in the SDGs, building on the failures and successes of the previous Monterrey Consensus and Doha Declaration.
Following the FfD conference, the Center for International Private Enterprise’s (CIPE) convened a panel of experts to reflect on the new SDG financing framework and outline important steps leading up to the summit in September where 193 heads of state will converge to ratify the goals.
Hosted by CIPE Executive Director John D. Sullivan, the panel featured Trevor Davies of KPMG, Christopher Jurgens of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Louise Kantrow of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Kamran M. Khan of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), and Sarah Thorn of Walmart.
On April 25, a devastating earthquake of 7.8 magnitude rocked the central region of Nepal, claiming over 8000 lives, injuring thousands, and leaving another 2.8 million people homeless. The government of Nepal has been posed with one of its biggest disaster-related challenges in recent history. Despite the looming challenges that remain, a window of opportunity has emerged for Nepal to mobilize the energy and enthusiasm of its citizens for a better, more prosperous country. The fabric of Nepali society—which exemplifies cooperation, tolerance, and compassion— has been on clear display in the voluntary efforts of various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), civil society groups, and individuals alike. This energy marks a new beginning for Nepali society and politics.
Mary Shirley delivering her speech at the “The Next Generation of Discovery: Research and Policy Change Inspired by Ronald Coase” conference in March 2015.
“Ronald Coase would often say that if Darwin were to come back to earth today, he would be amazed at how much biology has progressed since The Origin of Species. Whereas if Adam Smith came back today and looked at economics, he would be amazed at how little has changed since he wrote The Wealth of Nations.”
– Mary Shirley, President of the Ronald Coase Institute
CIPE’s latest Economic Reform Feature Service article features President of the Ronald Coase Institute Mary Shirley’s speech delivered at a conference co-hosted by the Ronald Coase Institute and CIPE on the topic “The Next Generation of Discovery: Research and Policy Change Inspired by Ronald Coase.” The conference, which was held in March this year, honored Ronald Coase – one of the most influential economists of the 20th century – and celebrated his important contributions to the field of economics.
“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank
Do you like to tell stories through photography? Then show us your best work! The first annual Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) Photo Competition is now open for submissions.
Open to participants of all ages, including student, amateur, and professional photographers, the inaugural photo competition will focus on the theme of Entrepreneurship.
Each year on September 15, the UN observes the International Day of Democracy to celebrate efforts to promote and consolidate democracy around the world. Despite these efforts however, the realization of consolidated democracy continues to be a struggle for many reformers. This year, the UN has chosen a theme of “Engaging Young People in Democracy” and acknowledges that “study after study show declining faith among young people…with declining levels of participation.” Compounding this declining faith in democracy is a rising ideological competitor in the form of economically successful authoritarian regimes.
As much as young people are recognized as dreamers and agents of change, these characterizations tend to be the result of youth wanting to see an improvement in their quality of life. In emerging countries such improvements are often delivered through economic growth, and in cases such as China and Singapore youth populations can honestly say their standard of living has gotten better year after year. These examples can lead youth to become disillusioned with democracy, especially at a time when the world’s major democracies are suffering the aftereffects of a major financial crisis. Meanwhile, in the developing world, kickstarting growth in democratic regimes often takes time due to a need to build consensus and develop proper policies.
Quality of life, however, is not measurable only in terms of indicators such as income levels, consumption, and GDP — though almost all of the world’s most prosperous countries are democracies. Other, arguably more important aspects such as human rights, liberty, and freedom are also vital components. Since 2012, CIPE has been part of a consortium seeking to analyze the development paths of three emerging democracies (India, Brazil, and South Africa) in order to create an argument in support of democratic development.