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Redefining Accountability

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In July, I gave a public lecture in St Kitts under the auspices of the University of the West Indies Open Campus and the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank. I had participated earlier in the annual compliance conference organized by the National banking group, and I have already posted how impressed I am with the National's executive management team. For the public lecture I chose as my topic, "Management and Responsibility: Redefining Accountability for the Contemporary Commonwealth Caribbean Corporation." In the public lecture, I was trying to extend the discussion I had begun the previous week in the compliance seminar.

National Compliance Seminar Attendees

A recurrent theme of many of the discussions I have had with persons, both from and outside of the Federation, attending the St Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla National Bank Corporate Compliance Seminar last week is that we are now operating in difficult times; but this is by no means new. We seem to be going through recurring cycles of business crises, one after the other, originating outside our region but whose adverse consequences are acutely felt here. The most recent is the Global Financial Crisis of the late 2000s which has had such an enormous impact on credit and we may still be feeling the effect that credit crunch in our part of the world. I am quite sure that our bankers and financial services executives here know this, and are more intimately acquainted with these developments than I am.

 

The regulatory state: the new serfdom

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Over the last hundred and fifty years, we have more and more deeply entrenched the administrative state. Indeed, todThomas Sowellay almost all of us live in some form of regulatory state. There is hardly any aspect of our lives that does not fall for some form of regulation and, indeed, most of us would agree that some form of regulation of market forces is necessary. Thomas Sowell in Dismantling America: And other controversial essays (2010) made the point, “Regulation is of course not always bad, and it would be hard to find anyone of any party who says that it is.”  He was at that time speaking of the banking/financial services industry, but I cannot contemplate that any rational person would agree that market forces alone should determine whether or not we sell rotten meat, or allow children into mines, or have access to atomic bombs.

 

BBC: Corruption 'threatens India's economic growth'

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Prime Minister Manmohan SinghThe BBC published a report that widespread corruption in India costs billions of dollars and threatens to derail the country's growth, a survey says. The report by consultancy firm KMPG said that the problem had become so endemic that foreign investors were being deterred from the country. It was compiled by questioning 100 top domestic and foreign businesses. Its release comes as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struggles to cope in the battle against corruption.

Earlier this month the head of the country's anti-corruption watchdog was forced to resign by the Supreme Court on the grounds that he himself faces corruption charges. Over the last six months India has been hit by a series of corruption scandals including a multi-billion dollar telecoms scandal, alleged financial malpractices in connection with the Commonwealth Games and allegations that houses for war widows were diverted to civil servants.

 

Living Long and Remembering One’s Mistakes

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Lee Kuan YewI recently watched Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s incumbent “Minister Mentor”, as he was interviewed by Charlie Rose on Bloomberg Television.  Lee is 88 years old, he is still very alert and still very able. He stands as testimony to one of my early theories on the utility of management through mentor-ship. Lee commented to Rose that he had lived long but he had not forgotten his mistakes. I wonder how many of our current or even past political leaders are ready to admit that they had made any? Lee recognized that Singapore’s development was fragile and could easily slip away if not carefully managed, but he seemed satisfied with his accomplishments. He was concerned, he said, with the impact he had on the world around him, and the people who had relied on him, and he hoped that he had made their lives better. In his own assessment of his accomplishments and achievements, he said “I give myself a B+.” Many would beg to differ. By any standard, Lee Kuan Yew's life-time accomplishments are A+.

 

Competition Law and Policy in a Small-State Setting

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Small State EconomiesSmall states are usually small economies and it is generally accepted that they face particular difficulties in implementing and developing competition law.  It is arguable that these difficulties arise precisely from the fact that these states are small. After all, the constructs that have found their way into the modern competition law disciplines were developed in large economies and these were later exported to smaller ones. The participants in large economies have had and continue to have opportunities to develop in terms of scale and scope, which opportunities are usually denied to the market participants in small economies.  More importantly, perhaps, market participants in large economies generally have per capita less overall impact on the economy where they operate than the impact that even smaller entities would have in smaller economies.   Indeed, from one perspective that is precisely the purpose of modern competition law, which is to reduce the debilitating impact any one market participant may have on the overall economy. So, one may argue, small states need competition law more than large states.

 
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