(Photo: Kyiv Post)
When protesters first took to the streets in Ukraine’s largest cities in 2013, economic concerns were at the top of the agenda. As the geopolitical situation in eastern Ukraine has heated up, economic prospects in the contested regions of the country have only gotten worse. Yet average Ukrainians are still working for a more prosperous and democratic future.
Since the Maidan protests, the business climate in the Donbass, the easternmost, coal-mining region of the country, has taken a turn for the worse. Amid the turmoil, local businesses – in particular small and medium-sized firms – have suffered. Many have been shaken down for so-called “donations,” and in some cases have been looted and ransacked.
A recent article in the local press has documented fines, bribery, and other abuses committed against local businesses by police departments and government officials. Many people have even left the region, heading either for Western Ukraine or even Russia. The owners of small businesses have left their homes and their enterprises behind. They are unsure when they can return, or whether they will find their businesses in the same condition.
As one CIPE partner in the Donbass noted, “Public sector bribes have grown by several times what they were prior to the strife, and not one Grivna [the Ukrainian currency] is going to the budget.” He confirmed that many business owners and heads of banks in the region are being forced to leave their businesses. “Because of roadblocks and military activities, there are just no opportunities to run a business,” he laments.
The pro-European, Kiev-based protests that led to the ouster of former President Viktor Yanukovich made Ukraine a hot topic in international news. Yet in many ways, the situation that set international media ablaze in early February is really a much older story.
The year 2013 proved to be politically dynamic, with many countries seeing political strife or even regime change — among other crises, Ukrainians took the streets to demand more political and economic freedoms and closer ties with the West and the civil war in Syria raged on. The Fragile States Index (FSI) attempts to measure the factors driving such upheaval on a country-by-country basis.
Created by The Fund for Peace and published by Foreign Policy, for ten years the FSI has tried to put into perspective the relative stability of nations and rank them accordingly. The index develops an aggregate total score for each country by taking in a host of different social, political, economic factors: demographic pressure, the quantity of refugees and internally displaced persons, group grievances, human flight and brain drain, the unevenness of economic development, poverty and economic decline, state legitimacy, public services, human rights and the rule of law, the security apparatus, factionalized elites, and external intervention.
According the FSI, the lower the score, the more stable the country. This year’s index is lead by Finland in 178th place, receiving the lowest total score of 18.7, with relative newcomer South Sudan ranking 1st with an aggregate 112.9 (the United States is close to the top, occupying 159th place with a score of 35.4).
One conclusion established by the FSI is that states rarely fundamentally change from year to year. For instance, 9 out of 10 of 2013’s most fragile states still occupy the lowest spots. That being said, the FSI is useful for determining significant and surprising developments and trends. This year’s notable changes and scores included:
By Gustavo Guerrero and Laura Boyette
The economic and political climate in Venezuela today has grown to crisis levels as the government consolidates power and limits the freedoms of entrepreneurs and the private sector through harmful legislation and the nationalization of private businesses. In the face of these challenges, the Federation of Chambers and Associations of Commerce and Production (FEDECAMARAS) continues working hard to advocate for policies that will grow the Venezuelan economy and provide more opportunities to young entrepreneurs, both of which are essential to creating a brighter future for Venezuela. In May Jorge Roig, President of FEDECAMARAS, sat down for an interview with CIPE and discussed the role of the private sector and its advocates in Venezuela.
Roig stressed the importance of cooperation between business, society, and government, saying that without engaging these groups in dialogue, substantive change will not occur. In recent years, the Chávez and Maduro governments have depicted the private sector and organizations such as FEDECAMARAS as the source of Venezuela’s economic problems, claiming they have political aspirations. However, Roig defined the role of FEDECAMARAS very clearly – not to be a political power, but rather to influence it on behalf of entrepreneurs. Furthermore, organizations such as FEDECAMARAS not only protect free enterprise, but also support democratic values and act in the best interests of the society as a whole.
“Enterprise Cities” aim to emulate the success of places like Dubai.
With rates of urbanization increasing, the idea of “Enterprise Cities” is gaining ground as countries to rethink their approach to economic policy and the best strategies to promote broad-based job creation and growth.
Driven by industrialization and the search for better jobs, millions of people are moving from the countryside into cities. This is proving challenges for governments as it creates increased demand for public services and expensive infrastructure projects to meet the needs of citizens. Globalization is also increasing competition among countries to attract multinational companies and foreign direct investment.
Widespread reluctance to implement comprehensive reforms, as well as burdensome legal and regulatory regimes, are impediments to economic growth and entrepreneurship, leaving developing countries in a difficult situation.
Special zones with autonomous regulatory systems that bolster competition and foster the growth of competitive markets are one way to cut through the gridlock and bring prosperity to the burgeoning cities of the developing world.
By Majid Shabbir
The advocacy process in Pakistan is strengthening as the leaders of the country’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry assembled for a series of Pre- and Post-Budget Conferences in Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi to discuss the key business-related policy issues.
In these conferences business leaders of the Chambers thoroughly deliberate important issues and send consolidated policy recommendations to the government. Business associations individually make recommendations on various policies, but with a collective voice they are able to communicate more effectively. Their voice is better heard, and as a result more of their suggestions are incorporated while developing economic policies.
In the pre-budget conferences held by the Karachi and Faisalabad Chambers, the business leaders discussed in-depth trade and economic issues and presented detailed recommendations to the government for consideration. Before the announcement of the Federal Budget the government also involved Chambers and Associations in the consultative process by holding series of meetings with the leaders of these associations.
After the budget was released, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized an All Chambers Presidents Post-Budget Conference with the theme of “Together for a Progressive Pakistan” on June 14 that was attended by all major Chambers including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, KPK, and Rawalpindi, as well as experts and high-level government officials.
More than 400 business leaders, including 30 women, met in in Karzai Hall in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on June 4 to discuss ways of improving the business environment Nangarhar Province. Organized by CIPE and led by the Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry‘s Nangarhar chapter and a coalition of 12 local business associations, the participants discussed the barriers and challenges to doing business in the province and identified policy solutions to support business growth.
The event is part of a CIPE supported Provincial Business Agenda (PBA) program. The PBA is a grassroots effort to bring the local business community together to develop a list of policy priorities to improve the business climate in the province.
CIPE Pakistan has completed its 7th successful year. The 2013 Pakistan Activities Report details the progress of yet another instrumental year for policy reform driven by the private sector in the country.
Following are the highlights of the report: