[URUGUAY] “DEMOCRACY or BUREAUCRACY & MEDIOCRITY”
Questions & Answers by David P. Michaels
QUESTION: What do you think are the key components in the renaissance of Uruguay’s economy?
ANSWER: I will initially address these first three principal components:
QUESTION: How can Uruguay obtain investment during these turbulent economic times?
ANSWER: Investment must be promoted by a single, but coordinated entity, manned by motivated, internationally experienced, multi-lingual, well remunerated professionals, with a “can do” attitude, working directly with the vested authority of the “Office of the President,” and through only one Ministry. The logical Ministry is the Ministry of Economy & Finance.
This proposed new entity, perhaps called the “President’s Office for Foreign Investment Liaison,” must clearly define its objectives, and all personnel must have a proven record of positive “work ethics,” and accept “accountability” for their actions, as part of an employment contract. The President should also draw upon human resources from the private sector.
This will also create a “model” for the “restructuring” of Uruguay’s bureaucracy, incorporating “accountability” and “transparency” in order to avoid possible “conflicts of interest.”
QUESTION: What do you think are the key components in a foreign investment promotion strategy for the renaissance of Uruguay’s economy?
ANSWER: The principal component of any strategy is people! Uruguay has a well-educated population, with a potential to exceed, if motivated. Uruguay has to make certain changes, but NOW!
I recall Winston Churchill’s remarks, which I paraphrase: “We have to choose today between shame and war. If we choose shame today, we will still get war tomorrow, but at a much higher cost.”
A major barrier to those who have developed a positive and motivated “work ethic,” within both the public and private sectors, are those who have no appreciation for the value of TIME! We must educate people to realize that TIME is the most precious commodity! It is the only commodity that cannot be replaced! This lack of appreciation and value for TIME; this lack of a sense of URGENCY, is a major barrier to investment, and therefore, directly affects the “quality of life” of all Uruguayans.
My message to them: “Put Uruguay FIRST! If you can’t put Uruguay FIRST, go home, and let your more enlightened colleagues do their work with the appropriate efficiency and sense of URGENCY Uruguay deserves! Uruguay challenges you to join with others to make Uruguay the Country it should be, the Country its people deserve. You are a key component in facilitating the many benefits of freedom and democracy!”
Remember the words of John F. Kennedy, “Do not ask what your Country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your Country.”
Another important component is the investment “marketing tool” I have discussed with a number of leaders from Uruguay’s public and private sectors. This investment marketing tool is an “Investment Package,” which could be incorporated within the marketing and promotion of globally competitive, well designed “Industrial” or “Business” Parks,” and would include all the elements necessary to potentially attract, the increasingly elusive foreign investment:
a: Tax, import duties, and fiscal benefits, in order to lower the “political/economic” risks.
b: Contribution of land and basic infrastructure from individual Intendencias.
c: Competitive energy and communications resources.
d: Capital equipment investment guarantees provided to “qualified” foreign investors from a newly structured Uruguayan Government Guarantee Fund, also working through the Ministry of Economy & Finance.
e: Provision of legal assistance and support.
Foreign and local corporations whose applications for the “Investment Package,” meet a simple, but concise list of criteria, would be assigned a “Director” from the proposed “President’s Office of Foreign Investment Liaison,” whose principal purpose would be to deliver the signed “Investment Package” to the potential investor, within a period not to exceed 30 days. Senior level “Liaison Directors” would be appointed within all Ministries, their ONLY responsibility being to facilitate the processing of the documentation.
The Intendencia of San Jose had partially enacted this type of foreign investment incentive program, also during a difficult investment climate, but with an encouraging result. This type of productive attitude should be encouraged and supported from all appropriate government entities, and emulated by all Departmental, State and political leaders.
“Productive leadership by example” is a key to the reversal of the current “status quo” and attitudes. A San Jose Industrial Park or zone would create a “model” that could be duplicated in all the Departments. For example: A San Jose Industrial Park; A Florida Agricultural Industry Park. Montevideo has an established Services & High Tech Park (“Zonamerica”). These “Parks” create industrial efficiencies and “economies of scale.”
Leadership, energy, innovation, incentive and urgent ACTION, are the keys to the “renaissance” of Uruguay’s economy! These qualities and abilities DO exist in Uruguay! Support them, promote them, and make your own contribution! EARN your wages; not just “collect them!” You will be stimulated and motivated by your OWN efforts, and feel proud of yourself!
To Uruguay’s politicians I respectfully suggest you remember the words of Woodrow Wilson in 1918, as he led Americans into a frightening New World of global crisis and responsibilities: “POLITICS IS ADJOURNED”
Any opinions contained in this commentary are those of the author and are not given or endorsed by the Uruguayan American Chamber of Commerce in the United States, the Uruguayan American Business Council, or any corporation or entity with whom the author is associated.