The Dialogue: Detriments to Economic Competitiveness

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In a previous post we talked about the competitiveness of Bahrain and what it would take to aid it along the prosperity path. This is of vital importance of course as achieving good economic growth will create jobs, fill stomachs and redraw missing smiles.

But economic growth cannot flourish in an environment where onerous and crippling (sometimes ludicrous) laws exist. Yes, a structure is undisputedly needed, but not to the extent that they would cripple innovation and creativity, and I personally believe that they shouldn’t discourage calculated risk-taking either.

What are those laws or directives which you think are detrimental to the country’s growth? Please specify those laws and directives so that we research them and form an actual recommendation for their removal through the Dialogue.

My own experience is the ridiculous requirement for an entrepreneur to have a specific educational achievement to start particular projects; if I were to start a web design studio then the government requires me – as a business owner – to have gained a BSc. If anyone is to start a landscaping or gardening business then they are required to have a high school certificate. What has both to do with being creative? What does either have to do with being entrepreneurial? I believe having this sort of restriction is preventing entrepreneurial innovation.

There must be others as well. What are those?

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4 Comments
  • Da Rebel
    16 July 2011

    One quick and easy temporary fix to the economy would be to allow liquor to be served after the hours of dark during Ramadan.

    The food and beverage industry, in particular the hotels, has been hit very hard this year with the unrest. First the curfew discouraged many people from going out or dining out. Then the Formula One was cancelled, depriving the hotels of a big boost to revenues. Now that things have calmed down, the hotels will take a big hit during Ramadan when most of the customers from across the causeway decide that Dubai, or even Doha are more welcoming venues if they want a drink. While I wholeheartedly realise that alcohol is not the ultimate reason for coming to Bahrain, it must be acknowledged that with Tourism accounting for approximately 22% of the GDP it is a large reason for visiting, especially if you live in Saudi. I don’t think the Saudi visitors come across for the shopping or the architecture. . .

    This would not be something completely new. It was only five years ago that the ban during Ramadan came into force, on the first evening of Ramadan, if I recall. Before this time, the bars and hotels served alcohol after sunset, like they do in Dubai, and everything worked well. The small restaurants sent their staff away for holidays and took the time to refurbish. The larger hotels carried on as usual. Everyone was happy. Now the hotel scene will become a proverbial desert, occupancy will plummet, the support businesses like cold stores, laundries, car hire will suffer and for what?

    No member of parliament will suggest this move, however, because it would be tantamount to being a ‘bad Muslim’ and supporting alcohol (which is ‘haram’.) The situation in reality is that Bahrainis are in the minority in their own country and the voice of the majority (the expatriate community) who are stakeholders in the development of the country is not being listened to. If one was being uncharitable, you could say that it is a perverse form or racism where a large proportion of the community is being discriminated against.The Christians, Hindus and other religions are being denied something that they take for granted in other countries, (I’m playing Devils’ advocate and winding you up with this point.)

    It’s a sad state of affairs which, regrettably, once again reflects badly on the idea of Bahrain being ‘Business friendly.’

  • Steve the American
    16 July 2011

    OF COURSE, it’s stupid for the gummint to set educational requirements for entrepreneurs. Your problem is bigger than that in that your government thinks it needs to set any requirements for entrepreneurs, as if gummint has any idea of entrepreneurship that is helpful to anyone. That lies on top of the even bigger problem in that your government believes that it must control the development of entrepreneurship.

    The best thing the government can do to foster entrepreneurship is nothing, literally nothing, which is to say they should get the hell out of the way.

    Take a look around the world at where business startups flourish. Are any of them located in countries that require entrepreneurs to navigate a maze of regulation to open their doors? In Egypt, you have to take a thousand steps over six months to start up a business. How’s the economy in Egypt doing?

  • Dan
    16 July 2011

    Yes, this is VERY stupid. The thing that qualifies one as an entrepreneur is possession of enough money to be able to invest in a business. Apparently…no…OBVIOUSLY…the powers that be are trying to affect total control of all monies and business in Bahrain.

    They are NOT interested in stimulating the economy NOR in free market supply and demand but rather in setting up a bureaucracy to burden the economy of Bahrain with.

    Laissez-nous faire!

    According to historical legend, the phrase stems from a meeting in about 1680 between the powerful French finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert and a group of French businessmen led by a certain M. Le Gendre.

    When the eager mercantilist minister asked how the French state could be of service to the merchants and help promote their commerce, Le Gendre replied simply “Laissez-nous faire” (“Leave us be,” lit. “Let us do”).

  • Bu Jassim
    24 July 2011

    SECTORAL TRADE ASSOCIATIONS (OFFICIAL GOVT BACKED TRADE ASSOCIATIONS, FUNDED BY THE SECTOR WITH SPEACIAL STAFF TO FIGHT FOR THE SECTOR RIGHTS))

    THIS IS THE ONLY WAY BUSINESS AND EXPORTS WILL INCREASE SIGNIFICANTLY.

    THE ASSOCIATIONS WILL SLOWLY BUT SURELY PAVE THE WAY FOR ALL SECTORS TO FLOURISH, IF YOU REALLY CARE ABOUT THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY AND ITS ECONOMY THIS IS THE ONLY WAY.

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