When I was a little boy in the Netherlands I used to make a wish list for Saint Nicholas. (In Dutch Sint Nicolaas or Sinterklaas, also Americanized to Santa Claus, but that is a different story). In early December each family member would place a shoe (one) in the evening in front of the fireplace and sure thing my little list would there. It was also important to prepare a carrot for Sint Nicolaas’ horse. (In the Netherlands Sint Nicolaas rides on a white horse over the rooftops)
I don’t make little wish lists anymore but I was asked in interviews and during conferences about what I thought the priorities for the new government should be. It occurred to me that this was a bit like a wish list and since today is December 6th, I decided to give it a try again.
Please, may we have a government that is:
A Good Administrator
This includes collecting taxes and duties from every one (in terms of not some paying and others less so). It also means to pay invoices and tax returns on time. This applies not only to the government itself but also to the State Owned Enterprises it controls. (SOEs represent 7% of Gross Value Added but 24% of the arrears in Romania)
SOEs should apply and respect generally accepted principles of corporate governance and respect minority rights. Management should be appointed on professional criteria only.
Public spending, especially procurement processes should be transparent. Clear projects prioritisation is also needed. We know there is not enough money and that is normal. Nobody has enough resources to do everything he or she would like to do. What is needed is a transparent process of prioritising. Which projects get financing and based on what criteria? Different governments will use different criteria based on their ideology but the process should be transparent all the same.
A Good Project Manager
Projects should not only be started but also finished. Romania counts 40.000 unfinished infrastructure projects that must have cost a big sum of public money but have little impact.
In 2010 Romania has spent the largest share of its budget as % of GDP for public investments within the the EU (5,8%). Still the infrastructure remains one of the poorest in Europe. This has to change.
The constant changing of government officials and professionals in ministries makes it very difficult to engage in dialog. It also doesn’t help to create an environment of assuming responsibility and accountability.
Respectful and respected
Government should respect it citizens, tax payers and voters. State institutions should be strengthened and not challenged. There should be zero tolerance towards corruption.
The only way I know to create credibility is by delivering on promises. To do what you say you are going to do. It would be nice to have a credible government.
By the way, the other day I came across the following quote by Mahatma Gandhi. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Maybe I should wish for a happy government.
Long term sectorial strategies for the most important sectors of the Romanian economy are needed.
No more Emergency Government Ordinances to hasty legislative changes unless in case of a real emergency.
A law making process that includes a sound process of consultations with all involved parties, a proper impact analysis and a reasonable implementation process. The application of the law should be clear and unequivocal.
The Foreign Investors Council made a short write up on this. You can find it on www.fic.ro.
Last but not least I wish for a government which does what needs to be done in the interest of the country, even if this means risking losing popularity or if this goes against the short-term personal interests or egos of its members.
P.S. If you cannot provide all of the above on the 6th of December, that is not a problem, the 9th is fine (I mean this year)
P.P.S. If the above is too much, maybe you could give each member of government a copy of the book “Why Nations Fail“.
P.P.P.S. I hope your horse likes the carrot.
The times when I believed that my wishes were fulfilled by an age old bishop, riding over the rooftops on a white horse, are far behind so I don’t really think any of these wishes will be fulfilled by Saint Nicholas. But the government could do it, couldn’t they? Isn’t that their job?