Engaging the private sector in economic policy reform

On February 17, 2016 Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation hosted a special economic policy session termed ‘Econity’ with Dr. Eamonn Butler, Director – Adam Smith Institute (UK) at Hotel Annapurna, Durbarmarg. Econ-ity is Samriddhi Foundation’s regular discussion platform for sharing perspectives from different sides on political economic agendas that are important in the contemporary context. It constitutes of both an online forum and a face-to-face discussion on the issue.

Dr. Eamonn Butler is Founder and Director of the Adam Smith Institute (ASI). ASI has been influential in several public sector & tax reforms in the UK and was ranked 7th in global think tank rankings in 2013, making Dr. Butler an excellent resource person to talk about how private sector can play a constructive role in economic policy reform.

The event marked discussions on ‘Engaging the private sector in economic policy reform’ with Dr. Butler sharing his experiences on the same as a think-tank head in the UK. He presented on how entrepreneurs and the private sector engaged in policy debates in England and how this had been beneficial. His talks also touched upon what gave rise to policy corruption and what safeguards could potentially help prevent corruption while engaging the private sector in economic policy reform. Dr. Butler – ‘Wealth comes from creative genius of free people working on their self-interest, not plans from government agencies’. He presented Ten Commandments on the inter-relationship between politics and entrepreneurship. He also stressed on how growth should be bottom-up rather than top-down, a point which most participants agreed with. He stated how private businesses spread out risks, because if one private business fails, it becomes only one entrepreneur’s problem but when a state-owned business fails, it becomes a public taxpayer concern.

Niranjan Shrestha, Executive Director – Laxmi Group and Immediate Past President, NYEF (Nepalese Young Entrepreneurs’ Forum) talked about experiences on the same in Nepal. He elaborated on the role of the private sector in policy reform in the country and the need to encourage this trend. Shrestha also touched upon how the private sector was usually viewed as entities with vested interest rather than innovators and job-creators. He pinpointed three factors in particular that were needed for economic progress: rule of law, equal playing ground for all and a positive view of profit.

The program ended with a lively discussion amongst well-known bureaucrats, economists, policymakers, politicians and journalists. Participants and panelists exchanged ideas on how best the private sector could be engaged in the economic policy reform and the importance for it. A number of questions were raised on the role of trade-unions becoming political aides rather than representing real worker interests and how this had been handled in the UK. Additionally, there were also questions on what ideals Nepal could borrow from the UK in terms of economic reform and if Nepal could witness another economic revolution. Dr. Butler shared his experiences of the Margaret Thatcher government in the UK, which had brought about a number of such revolutionary changes such as allowing worker ownership in industries they worked for among others that helped drive the economic revolution in England. Participants also spoke on the need for private companies to maintain integrity whilst working for innovation and profit.

Find Dr. Butler’s ten commandments on entrepreneurship here!

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