Incompetence greater than corruption: Atif Mian


Pakistani-American economist Atif Mian put up a twitter poll on Wednesday that proved to be quite a discussion among the Twitterati.

He asked if corruption is the bigger problem or incompetence, in the developing countries, Atif questions, “which one is the bigger constraint in the developing countries,” the poll had both ‘corruption of the elite’ and ‘incompetence of the elite’ as the answer.

The percentage was as followed, ‘corruption of elite’ had 60 percent of the votes and ‘incompetence of elite’ had 40 percent, which bagged Atif’s vote as well.

The economist stated while citing Saudi Arabia and China as examples, “I will go with the minority view on this poll and argue that incompetence is the bigger constraint on the development than corruption (of course ideally we want avoid both).”

He further added how China and Saudi Arabia have corruption at the top end regardless of being centralised powers. However, he said that the Chinese system encourages competition which leads to stronger productivity, appreciating the ‘growing pie’ which enables the centralised powers to stay longer. The Saudi Arabian system had failed to do something similar leading to no ‘dynamism’, hence leading to incompetent policies like ‘saudization’.

He continued: “The eventual success of a system relies on one key Q: How effectively does it delegate power to the most competent? There is no doubt that corruption can come in the way of such delegation. But even a corrupt system can deliver if it finds a way to delegate to the competent.”

Atif Mian is also the author of the critically acclaimed book ‘House of Debt’ and was the former member in the Pakistan Economic Advisory Council, before he had to resign due to religious pressure he faced for his belief.