Hani Al Hamli, Secretary-General at Dubai Economic Council, stated that ‘Growth enabler’ role of the state has multi-faces meanings; it might indicate to the possibility of doing something, or encouragement, or support, or incentify. In advanced economies, the government ideally plays the role of ‘regulator’ and in some conditions as an ‘intervenor’. From Dubai and UAE perspective; however, the stated role implies all these aspects, precisely it cited how to make the private sector a genuine partner for the government in the development domain. It also means how to strengthen the private sector capacity to be initiator in various areas.
He was speaking at ‘FT-EY Global CFO Forum: Emerging Markets’ under the slogan ‘Innovate, Adapt, Succeed’ held in Dubai in a massive participation and attendance of high-caliber experts and CFOs from around the world.
In his keynote speech "The role of Government as a growth enabler", Hani Al Hamli presented an insightful thesis about the vision of the Government of Dubai in terms of the preferable role of the state as a growth enabler.
Hani said that overall the role of the state in the economy has been changed over the time according to the changes happened in global economy and politics, mindset, and lifestyle, among many other factors. Overall, the world has experienced several systems, from classics of Adam Smith who underpinned the foundation of neoliberalism in the 1970s that calls for the minimal role of the state in the economy, through Keynesiasm who stressed the vital role of fiscal policy, up to day, more recently the new thoughts made by Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz particularly before and post the global financial crisis 2008 who both stressed the importance of government intervention to regulate the market and induce efficiency.
"Among the significant lessons learnt from these experiences however is that the main role of government is how to meet the so called ‘broader economic and social aims" inter alia, economic stability, job creation, low inflation rate, quality of life, enhanced business environment, and sustainability," he added.
Al Hamli sheds light on the DEC view on the sustainable development pre-requisites. He said that the Emirate has transformed itself during the last four decades or so into a major international service economy. "However, recent development experiences suggest that good business environment has been among the key ingredients of sustainable development that would create jobs; generate high returns on investments; and, ultimately, improve society’s welfare. However, it is important to recognize that an "appropriate" business environment is a product of an integrated set of soft and hard institutions, including adequate physical infrastructure, predictable and transparent regulatory framework, skilled and disciplined labor force, stable macroeconomic environment and efficient public service delivery system,"Al Hamli added.
He highlighted the distinctive roles that the government of Dubai/ UAE has played over the years to activate its growth enabler in the economy, inter alia: launching critical initiatives to inspire and support the business sector: innovation, smart government and smart city, Islamic economy, and recently the happiness; A paradigm shift in the concept and philosophy of development from merely meeting the basics of citizens to welfare state; Economic Freedom versus property including intellectual property rights protection; Enacting laws and regulations that provide an enhanced and inspiring investment atmosphere to all investors, local and FDIs; Supporting the startups and SMEs; Empowering women; and Job creator.
"Overall, I think no longer valid the thesis that the government should keep ‘dressing the hat’ and imposing laws and rules. Instead, what is really expected from the government is to understand very well the needs of the market and citizens alike; to monitor carefully the market and intervene in the way that ensure the balance between the interest of the private sector and the well-being of citizens. It’s also no longer valid point that the government should isolate itself and leaves the private sector driving the whole market in the sense of ‘economic freedom’; we don’t want to repeat the same mistake most countries experienced over the last decades, instead; it’s all about how to maintain the viability and sustainability of businesses, but in the same time, how to secure the public welfare and happiness. This is why the Government of Dubai has advocated the ‘happiness’ goal and dedicated a separate ministry of happiness," Al Hamli concluded.