» » » Making the Business Climate Better

Making the Business Climate Better

posted in: Weekly Commentary 0
By Lowell L. Kalapa

     In the last two columns, we discussed what was wrong with Hawaii’s business climate, the fact that the cost of doing business and living is so high that it is difficult for businesses to make a profit and difficult for families to make ends meet.  

 

  Recently, the community has had two unique and exciting opportunities to hear observers of not only Hawaii’s economy, but that of the entire Asian Pacific basin.        Recently, the community has had two unique and exciting opportunities to hear observers of not only Hawaii’s economy, but that of the entire Asian Pacific basin. One of the observers was from the Federal Reserve Bank in San Francisco who noted that one of the very interesting, troubling, and painful aspects of Hawaii’s economic slump is that it has gone on for so long and he could think of no other state which had sustained such a prolonged downturn. He did observe that while most of it has to do with the Asian crisis, the official did note that there are some favorable aspects of this Asian crisis.

That note of optimism seemed to carry over to another speaker who was here representing the Hong Kong economic and trade office. His tune was very upbeat, recognizing the recent economic crisis that the former British Colony had endured after the return of its political control to China. He told his audience of how Hong Kong had endured other crises over the past 15 years and each time the economic dynamo emerged even stronger than before.

 

 

 

What is exciting is that Hong Kong’s leaders take what the trade official called a ‘can do’ attitude toward their economic dilemma.

       What was most interesting was the prescription that Hong Kong followed in each crisis. The most important point made was that their government is the least obtrusive in the economic picture of any jurisdiction in the world. Basically, the Hong Kong government has taken a hands-off policy where the economy is concerned. He noted that the government does not “meddle nor does it attempt to manipulate” the workings of its economy. Rather government plays a supporting role, providing infrastructure that will enhance economic activity.

Among the public projects the trade official cited was the building of a new international airport to the tune of billions of dollars. Recognizing that Hong Kong needs to provide new attractions to lure visitors to its shores, the government has provided a new tram to the top of the mountain where the largest sitting Buddha is located and a new amusement park. Hong Kong is also planning a multimillion international cruise terminal that will be able to accommodate a multitude of luxury cruise ships that officials hope will bring millions of more tourists to Hong Kong’s markets.

 

 

 

[Leaders in Hong Kong] don’t blame outside forces for their recent financial crisis. Instead they come up with new ideas and approaches to an even more daunting situation than Hawaii faces.

       In addition to added visitor promotion, the visitor association is creating a calendar of international events to be staged in Hong Kong and putting extra effort in promoting its new convention center. What was even more interesting is the pride exhibited in how much emphasis Hong Kong puts on education by allocating a large sum of its public expenditures to schools.

What was astounding was that the Hong Kong government allocates 18% of its public budget for education. What is astounding is that it is nearly half of what Hawaii spends as a percentage of its general fund budget. Here in Hawaii nearly 34% of the general fund budget is spent on education. Yet the quality of education is not equivalent to the education being provided in Hong Kong.

What is exciting is that Hong Kong’s leaders take what the trade official called a “can do” attitude toward their economic dilemma. They don’t blame outside forces for their recent financial crisis. Instead they come up with new ideas and approaches to an even more daunting situation than Hawaii faces.

And perhaps that is what is missing in the Hawaii picture, dynamic leadership that is not going to pointing fingers of blame; leaders that won’t take criticism as a personal attack but as constructive contributions, and leaders that have a “can do” attitude that will be infectious. There is no doubt that we don’t have leadership with the “can do” attitude.

It is time for leadership that will coalesce the community, that will turn to the community for its suggestions and that will implement the changes that the community wants. We could have the same old leadership, but where will that leadership take us if we haven’t moved from where we were years ago?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply