To what extent should the State involve itself in the world of business?

YES: The State should be involved to a large degree in business as doing so ensures a variety of effective business and societal outcomes.

  1. Some vital aspects of governance, such as managing and growing the national reserves through sovereign wealth funds, should in most cases be undertaken by the state which has the long-term national interest rather than short-term commercial profits in mind.

  2. The state should retain an extensive and influential regulatory role when it privatizes important public goods or services, such as transport, communications and healthcare, to ensure that social well-being and safety is not unduly marginalized by private operators focused solely on profits.     

  3. Economic factors related to pricing, supply and speculation pressures necessitate timely government intervention in some sectors, such as basic food commodities, housing and banking, to prevent financial elites or businessmen from exploiting members of the public or profiteering at the public expense.

  4. The state needs to actively supportsocial enterprises, such as farmers cooperatives or factories which hire the handicapped, as such businesses assist the economically disempowered and are vital to building cohesive and civic societies. 

NO: The State should not be involved in most areas of business as doing so dilutes its effectiveness as a state and also undermines desirable business and societal outcomes.

  1. The state should never be involved in business in countries with poor accountability and public transparency practices, as corrupt officials will likely abuse the public trust and pocket national funds or resources for themselves, leading to financial ruin for the nation.

  2. Once privatization takes place, governments should maintain a minimal regulatory role as doing otherwise would interfere with the efficient daily operations of the related sectors, especially if officials do not possess the necessary expertise to contribute meaningfully to efficient operations.

  3. State interventions into the free market may be driven by populist pressures, leading to highly complex, unpredictable and harmful economic consequences, such as the collapse of prices followed by unemployment in some business sectors or government subsidies in agriculture which breed farmers’ reliance on the government.     

  4. State involvement in social enterprises should be largely discouraged as supporting them would undermine their operators’ efficiency and pass their business problems to the state, unnecessarily burdening state resources.