Sunday, April 01, 2007

GREASING OF THE PALMS

American businesses, or any foreign venture for that matter, have to grease some palms just to do business in any new country. Local government officials demand payment to approve licenses, win contracts or avoid harassment from local regulatory and taxing government entities. Sound familiar? We have our own looters in the ASG whom we have to pay tribute.

Often times, we blame the "greasing" on the foreigner. The real crime, however, is not that foreigners pay under the table to get access to our markets, but that they even have to resort to such corruption in the first place. The standard is not who provides the cheapest price or the best service possible, but whom one can pay off to get that contract or favorable treatment.

Greasing of the palms is not only unfair to foreigners, but also unfair to local entrepreneurs. Locals see this practice as putting them at an unfair advantage, because they can't afford to outbid the bribes made to their very own countrymen. How unfortunate.

Call me crazy, but one day I hope the ASG has an online site where all competitors can submit their offers for a contract. This site would award points for different criteria like price, quality of product or service and history of reliability. No humans would be involved in the awarding of contracts, just the site's computation of points that one's bid would hypothetically justify.

There would also be a ranking system so that if the winner couldn't meet the demand for some unexpected reason, the second runner up would qualify to provide his services, and so on and so forth.

While the greasing of palms is something we often despise, in a way, we should be thankful that politicians can be bought off. What great strains our foreign businesses have had to go through just to provide us with more choices essential to our standard of living. Hopefully, one day, we'll have a government no one has to pay tribute to just so that we could live our lives and pursue our dreams.

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