Editor's Note: Alan Johnson is a Senior Private Sector Advisor in the World Bank's Investment Climate Advisory Services Group
A previous post by Pablo on the political cost of market reforms suggests that the incentive to reform depends on the impact of such reforms on the re-election chances of the incumbent government, and how much the president or party in power cares about re-election relative to other (enlightened) objectives.
Has the regulatory burden for Belarusian businesses decreased? According to a new World Bank Country Note on Running a Business in Belarus, progress has indeed been made over time. For example, the number of visits or required meetings with tax officials has significantly decreased from 2005 to 2008: from 3.2 to just 1 visit per year. Also, the percentage of firms reporting incidence of bribes with these tax officials decreased as well.
As far as labor issues in India are concerned, labor regulation is the hot favorite among academics. Some policy makers also talk about an impending skill shortage that requires urgent attention. But discussion of other issues—for example, lack of trust between employers and employees—is virtually non-existent.
Exactly one year ago, the Financial Times gave a positive gloss on Uzbekistan’s economic prospects. One of the sources for the FT’s take on Uzbekistan was Alisher Ali Djumanov, a managing partner at Eurasia Capital Management and (as the article points out) the only alumnus of Insead in the country. He had this to say:
As I posted on the blog last week, the Doing Business 2010 report launched on September 9th. While the report itself always contains useful information, what is often equally interesting is the response in the countries and economies concerned.
In a previous post I discussed how the current global financial crisis seems to have forced policy makers in India to take another look at existing labor laws in the country. The Economic Survey (2008-09) of India released by the Ministry of Finance in early July this year clearly noted the imperative need to facilitate the growth of labor intensive industries, "especially by reviewing labor laws and labor market regulations."
Few would contest that the internet revolution has saved us a lot of time keeping in touch with others and conducting searches. For firms, time saved is labor saved and this is particularly attractive in countries that have stricter labor laws. What I’m suggesting here is that stricter labor laws may encourage firms to adopt modern labor-saving technologies such as the internet and computers. In theory this could magnify the adverse effect of stricter labor laws on employment and wages documented in the literature. So what does the data tell us?