Friday, August 10, 2007

Business shouldn't be Govt. Business - Yunus

Nepali Times has an interview with Mohammad Yunus here. Here is Yunus on privatised, free market economy...
What relationship do you advise a government to have with the private sector?

First, the only thing any government can do is have the humility to accept that it cannot change people’s lives, and that it can only help people who are changing their own lives. But most governments simply mess up people’s lives, something they are good at. My experience is that business should not be the business of government. Business should be in the hands of the private sector, which produces jobs and services. I define private sector broadly to include both businesses that make profits and do good for society at large such as by building schools, hospitals and the like.
Also interesting is Yunus' views on government run micro-credit program.
In Nepal, government promoted microcredit programs through five regional grameen banks, all of which failed. Is microcredit an area in which a government can play an active role?

I explained to your finance ministers that running microcredit programs through the government would never work. Things get politicised. Loans are given to friends and supporters, who do not pay back. Political supporters are hired as bank officers, and they do no work. I have seen this happen in every country where the government runs micro credit programs. So, the first principle is: no matter what sort of micro credit program you run, do it away from the government. Choosing partners such as NGOs or socially-oriented private businesses comes next. I define a socially-oriented private business as a business that can get its investments back from a socially useful venture but earns no dividend.

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