GayandRight

My name is Fred and I am a gay conservative living in Ottawa. This blog supports limited government, the right of the State of Israel to live in peace and security, and tries to expose the threat to us all from cultural relativism, post-modernism, and radical Islam. I am also the founder of the Free Thinking Film Society in Ottawa (www.freethinkingfilms.com)

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Wolfowitz at the World Bank...

Here's a nice profile of Paul Wolfowitz who is now running the World Bank.
"I just heard today from Ann Clwyd," a British Labour politician recently in Iraq, he says, and she "was telling me about the work of the Free Prisoners Association, which documents the death certificates of people executed . . . and she said it's over 300,000. I mean, if you think it's bad now--the silence of the world in the face of what was going on before is just stunning."

A skeptic--never mind a Bank cynic--might point out that in Africa Mr. Wolfowitz has a challenge every bit as difficult as Iraq. Leon Louw, the South African economist, says that in the past 30 years the world has poured $450 billion of aid into Africa, but that average per capita income is lower than it was in the late 1960s. According to the World Bank's data, 39% of sub-Saharan Africa's private wealth was somewhere other than Africa in 1990--compared to 3% for South Asia, and only 10% even for Latin America.

Why invest in Africa if Africans won't? "It's a very fair question, and I think part of the answer is to deal with the kinds of regulations and taxes that I've been talking about," Mr. Wolfowitz says. "I'm absolutely sure that part of the answer is dealing with the corruption factor."

His favorite new source book is the World Bank's "Doing Business" report, an annual guide to the obstacles that countries impose on their own entrepreneurs. The 2006 version is just out, and for the first time Mr. Wolfowitz had it rank countries, from 1 to 155, on the "ease of doing business." New Zealand ranked first, and the U.S. third (after Singapore), but African nations held down 25 of the last 30 places.

Take Burkina Faso, a landlocked West African country that came in at . . . 154. "If you were in a food supply business," Mr. Wolfowitz says, "registering a business would require minimum capital equal to nearly five times annual income. Fees alone cost 1 1/2 times income per capita . . . to register your land, you have to pay fees, 16% of the value of the land. So the result is in a country of 12 million people, only 50,000 are in the formal" economy.

So why is he optimistic? Burkina has grown for the last decade, he says, and the country has political cohesion. "I had a great meeting with the president of Burkina" on a recent trip, and "I shouldn't say this, but I want to find a way to communicate these results to him and say, do something about it, your country will grow even more."

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