Oct 272013
Individual freedom, open society vital for high economic growth
An open society with equal access to opportunities and a respect for individual freedoms is a vital prerequisite for high-level economic growth, according to New Zealand’s former Finance Minister, Ruth Richardson.

“The easy sources of growth have already been exhausted and what is left is growth through innovation. Innovation at all levels will be the engine that drives Sri Lanka’s growth too but in order to do so, we need to get to grips with what is required.

Unfortunately, so much of business is still done in a corrupt way with the collusion of governments, banks and businesses. This type of crony capitalism and corruption creates a glass ceiling and is a cancer that destroys the competitive instinct.”

Delivering the keynote address at the 34th National Conference of Chartered Accountants, Richardson went on to spell out key policy frameworks that would be required to foster such growth, namely the rule of law, improved access to education, economic and political systems and a respect for intellectual property.

“The degree to which a country has rule of law is the basic acid test for its ability to grow through innovation. It is vital that all citizens are given equal opportunities. So, if you have a situation where the only way to succeed is to be born into the right family or join the right political party or cosy up to government, then reforms are required,” she warned.

Richardson added that many of her discussions in China and Russia had cantered around similar issues.

“Innovation is only possible when individuals have the freedom to create. It is their talent, ideas and willingness to take risks that will determine whether a country grows. An environment of open competition is necessary, not just in business but also in political systems.

Your ability to take your innovations to the world stage will ultimately be determined by how good your innovations are and not what family or club you belong to,” she emphasized.

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