What happens when the fox takes over the chicken coop? Or to put it in another context, what can you do when those meant to be responsible for running a country’s economy turn it into their own personal enterprise, particularly when such take-over is carried out by formally legal – but de facto illegitimate – rules and regulations?
The answer to the first question is comprehensively set out in the World Bank’s recent paper on Tunisia, ‘All in the Family’. The report vividly describes how former President Ben Ali and members of his clan controlled a clutch of firms which generated 21% of all net private sector profits, through a patient penetration and capture of the economy. The result was a business and financial empire, with built-in advantages for associates of the former President and severe restrictions for any competition. In the words of the report, regulations “…appear disproportionately to assist the profitability of Ben Ali firms”….