Due to economic and political instability, crime rates have skyrocketed. As of , the capital city of Caracas is the second-most violent city in the world, with homicides per , residents. As a comparison, the most violent city in the U. The spike in crime has swamped the courts, with over 70, people currently awaiting trial. While the majority of Venezuelans suffer, many wealthy, connected elites enjoy the privileges of cronyism — using the political system to enrich themselves at the expense of the entire society.
The purpose of the audit was to identify specific obstacles to a healthy, thriving economy. The Fraser Institute provides the evaluation expertise and Atlas Network draws on its extensive global network of think tanks to make connections in the target countries. Arpita Nepal, co-founder and research and development advisor at the Samriddhi Foundation, a free-market think tank in Nepal, shared in detailed her experience and advice for conducting a successful EFA.
Gaining insights and learning best practices was an important step before launching such an intensive project.
The components of economic freedom, income and growth: an empirical analysis
Early course correction and refinement, even before a project launch, is a key way to efficiently manage both resources and social capital. Then it verified the results and examined the comparative ranking and historical performance of each variable. Conducting the literature review and implementing their outreach plan to connect with local stakeholders and invite them to participate in the workshops took a total of five months, from March to July Once the appropriate data was gathered, dates were set, invitations were sent, and the panels of experts began a review of each area of the index.
Recruited experts were grouped according to the different areas of the EFA.
Such security was a powerful incentive for turnout and attendance. During these workshops, representatives from 48 organizations discussed the interrelated aspects of economic freedom. Organizations included non-profits, consulting firms, law firms, universities, unions, and even the Caracas Chamber of Commerce. The addition of other globally recognized organizations helped give the EFA further legitimacy to attract participants.
Stakeholders included representatives, leaders, and entrepreneurs from universities, public agencies, unions, media, civil society organizations, banks, and companies. The attending individuals included experts with broad historical and quantitative knowledge, as well as individuals deeply embedded in their line of work, with important qualitative and tacit knowledge of their respective enterprise.
McMahon was an important ally during the EFA, since he had already visited other countries for previous audits. Additionally, during the conference dates McMahon visited Consecomercio, a nonprofit local trade association. There, he discussed the benefits of economic freedom with nearly 50 business owners and managers. Partnering with organizations that have deep experience and strong knowledge is a valuable way to support the rollout of a new project. To help supplement the numbers, individual citizens struggling through the repressive Venezuelan economy presented their own personal testimonies.
One participant, Oswaldo Bonillo, shared his story.
Bonillo was the owner of a mechanical workshop that had been expropriated by the Venezuelan government in Although he was never formally sentenced or charged, the government seized his property with impunity. After 50 years of hard work, an arbitrary decision by a government agency robbed a man of his livelihood in a mere 48 hours. According to the Observatory of Property Rights, sponsored by CEDICE, the Venezuelan government closed 28, private enterprises in and seized over 4 million square meters of private land.see url
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Bonillo was never compensated, and he has yet to hear from the judiciary. In , there was an average of attacks on small businesses per day. A group of law students suggested the creation of property courts. Currently, Venezuela lacks specialized courts to settle property disputes. Like Bonillo, those whose property is expropriated have no viable channel for legal recourse. These newly established property courts would return confiscated property and have the sole authority to grant expropriation orders. Furthermore, to help address the broader, cultural disregard for property rights, participants suggested the creation of housing titles for beneficiaries of housing subsidies, based on the idea that creating more homeowners could help imbue Venezuelans with respect for private property.
Speeches and discussions during the other workshops resulted in additional public policy proposals. These small adjustments could result in marked improvements for the living standards of Venezuelans. To help engage with a potentially hostile audience at the workshops, CEDICE and McMahon wrote quick introductions that utilized facts, figures, and recent news to provoke and start discussion. For example, during the session on Sound Money, they collected and presented the most recent numbers on inflation, monetary base growth, and alternative measures of CPI inflation.
In fact, once the Sound Money workshop concluded, union leaders requested photographs with McMahon. A key to the success of the EFA was the willingness to hear all voices and not insist on ideological purity to draft policy recommendations. Although the ultimate goal is the dismantlement of exchange rate and price controls, short-term policies are also important, and providing an atmosphere of engagement has the potential to more effectively impact policy in the long term. The social and economic state of Venezuela has gotten worse than anyone could have predicted fifty years ago, and getting on the road to recovery is more important than ever.
While present and future prospects are still dim, the fact that an Economic Freedom Audit was not only possible but had such strong participation is telling. Google Scholar. Barro, R. Berggren, N. CrossRef Google Scholar. Bollen, K. Brunetti, A.
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