Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Trade negotiations

Yesterday I read an article in The Economist that the latest Doha round of trade negotiations had been unsuccessful. I wasn't even aware of a round. Usually the Indian newsdailies make a big issue of it, and I was surprised that there wasn't as much as a 'peep'. In addition, the Indian representative arrived 90 minutes late, and his excuse was the soccer match. Is he paid to waste tax payers' money on foreign trips to watch soccer matches? How do such people get elected in the first place? So many organisations seem to be so angry that the "lower caste" are being denied opportunities, why does no one not question such wasteful expenditure?

Public policy thought process: if one of the incentives of being in government or government job is foreign travel at tax payer expense, the costs of vote rigging and other methods to get votes may not be that high compared to the payoffs. There would be more resistance against change transparency or more accountability. It may be a good exercise to see how many such foreign trips involve family members also, i.e., in how many cases do families of these ministers also travel at tax payer expense?

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