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Monday, 18 February, 2002, 13:22 GMT
Should the power of the multinational corporation be curbed?
The fallout from Enron's collapse has demonstrated that few countries are immune from the effects of big multinational corporations - for better or worse.
This recent scandal has brought into question the ability of governments to monitor and regulate powerful financial institutions.
Should an international independent regulating body be appointed to limit the power of multinationals? Or should the onus fall on individual governments? Tell us what you think.
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Tom Smith, Switzerland
If multinational companies are allowed to expand without some form of control we will eventually find that decisions that affect us as individuals will be made within those boardrooms by unelected individuals, not by elected governments.
Where there is capitalism, you don't talk about democracy.
I do not believe that an international organisation can "regulate" multi-national companies in a general way. But such an organisation could effectively regulate specific issues, such as the rights of staff of these companies over their pension money! Or the rights of consumers for safe products.
Historically, on a national scale, business has always been conducted within a framework of laws. The so-called "free market system" has, in fact, always been regulated by law. However, with the advent of multinational corporations there has developed no corresponding framework of international regulation. Such an international legal framework is essential for the simple reason that no economic enterprise is really self-regulating.
Shantanu Dutta, India
The government of
the people, by the
people and for the
people, was buried in
Wall Street and the new
democracy today we
have is government of the corporations
by the corporations
and for the etc!
No, multi-nationals should have more power -they transcend
physical borders to expand trade culture and information far more effectively than diplomatic corps. Now everyone loves England because of Cadburys and not Jack Straw.
What happened in Seattle and elsewhere, has shown us that there is a growing discontent with the way multinationals operate and take advantage of cheap labour in developing countries, without generating enough benefit to the workers. The problem is unlikely to be solved by setting up an international independent regulatory body since it will not command much enforcement power, as there will not be consensus amongst the great powers, who tend to benefit from the operation of the multinationals.
The best means to deal with the excessive power of the multinationals seems to be that the government deal directly with the foreign multinationals and negotiate the best deal for the local economy and implement effective distributive policies, so that the benefit of freer trade trickle down to the people at the bottom as well.
It is all well and good saying that a multitude of regulations should be introduced but we must remember the problems regarding finding and enforcing suitable policies. History has shown us that if there is a will there is a way - loopholes will always be found and exploited. However, the world is changing and in this day and age where capital flows are dangerously volatile, the regulation of powerful financial institutions could help to minimise the risk and extent of financial catastriophes.
Alistair Good, England
Many proponents of a truly free market would argue that we, the consumers, 'vote' for the corporations via our wallets. Why is anything else necessary?
An international independent regulating body would be just a back door way of curbing free enterprise. We might as well become communists, and take out the term "progress" from our vocabulary.
All power by anyone over anyone should always be curbed, period.
Purna Maharjan, USA
If we have all these protests over the WTO right now, what do you think this "new independent governing body" will spawn? How will it enforce its decisions if not through the WTO? And in the end, I'd rather trust the multinational whose motives I do know (profit) than some global regulating body.
It is a very good idea to have a global body that can monitor these multinationals. After all most of these companies originate from powerful countries that have a vested interest in making sure that they prosper. Who can oppose these powerful countries in a world where there is a large gap between rich and poor?
There should be absolutely no international authority to govern the actions of corporations. It would lead to a lot of controlling of world economies and would give the richer nations more control over the third world economies.
If a country does not like certain corporations or their products, they are free to restrict them on their own soil, but they have no right to tell other countries that they have to restrict a corporation or anything of the sort.
Fallout from US's biggest company failure in history
07 Feb 02 | Business
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