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An Alternative View on Investment Climate

The latest buzzword in the multilateral agency scene, particularly the
World Bank, is “investment climate.” In March 2001, then Chief
Economist of the Bank, Nicholas Stern, identified the task of improving
investment climate as “the central challenge in reaping benefits from
globalization.” By the next year, the Bank, through its Private Sector
Development Strategy program, embarked on surveys and assessments of
investment climate conditions in most countries. Today, the World Bank
is set to release the World Development Report 2005, (WDR2005)
preliminarily entitled “A Better Investment Climate – For Everyone,” by September 2004.

Thinking of Takenaka and the others

Certain opinions are misplaced regarding certain types of people and
their capacity for decision making and implementation. At least from
the point of view of some “accomplished” individuals in business and
government, there is a tendency to underestimate, on a wholesale-basis, people from the academe.

BIR reforms: welcome success story for 2003

The much-maligned Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) is fashioning a newimage: that of a professional, efficient, transparent and innovativeinstitution. This image is becoming a reality under the leadership ofCommissioner Guillermo Parayno, Jr. The good news – amid all theuncertainty, jitters, and antagonism in the pre-election period – isthat BIR achieved its collection target for 2003.

Damaging control

Six months into the year, the government has already incurred a deficit of P119.7 billion or 92% of its P130-billion target for the whole year. This is unfortunate, as the current administration has staked its
credibility on a fiscal discipline platform. Its pronouncements
encourage the market to herd around expectations generated by deficit ceilings; unfortunately, breaches would then be perceived as signals of fiscal irresponsibility, leading to a weakening of capital inflows.

Promoting corporate social responsibility

In his syndicated column titled “Reckonings,” Paul Krugman quoted the
now-classic statement of Gordon Gekko, the cunning corporate raider in
the movie Wall Street: “Greed is good. Greed works, greed is
right…and greed, mark my words, will save not only Teldar paper but
the other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.”

That statement is real-world stuff. Wisely unstated (as befits shrewd
business), such greed lies at the core of the behavior of many
corporate executives who aggressively pursue super-profits for
themselves and for the companies they run. Although Gekko’s line has
punch and has become very quotable, its message is not new. It merely
echoes a basic creed of liberal economics that the “unrestrained
rivalry of egotism” is good not only for the individual but for society
as well.