Kathmandu, November 4, 2014:Â The connection between economic prosperity and property rights in undeniable. Weak property rights are most commonly seen in the developing world and reverse seems to be the general scenario in the developed world. As more and more people from developing nations are stressing on the need of economic growth and as Nepal is no exception to this, it is crucial that the physical and intellectual property protection be discussed.
The International Property Rights Index (IPRI) is a publication of the Property Rights Alliance (PRA) based in Washington, DC. In its effort to produce the IPRI, PRA has secured the support of 81 think tanks and policy organizations in 62 countries involved in research, policy, development, education and promotion of property rights in their countries. In this context, Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation is the partner think tank in Nepal for PRA and has been proudly releasing the International Property Rights Index â€“ one of the most comprehensive international measurements of property rights around the world â€“ in Nepal since 2012. From measuring the status of 70 countries in the first edition, the IPRI has grown to examine 131 countries in its eighth edition in 2014.
IPRI is an annual comparative study that aims to quantify the strength of property rights – both physical and intellectual – and to rank countries accordingly. IPRI scores and ranks each country based on 10 variables reflecting the state of its Legal and Political Environment (LP), Physical Property Rights (PPR) and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). In the Legal and Political Environment, the sub categories for evaluation are Judicial Independence, Rule of Law, Political Stability and Control of Corruption. Similarly in the Physical Property Rights the subcategories are Protection of Physical Property Rights, Registering Property and Access to Loans. Finally, the subcategories in Intellectual Property Rights are Protection of Intellectual Property Rights, Patent Protection and Copyright Piracy. The 2014 edition contains the ranking of 131 economies, which represents 98 percent of the world GDP.
Finland bags the top spot in this yearâ€™s index with a score of 8.5 out of a possible 10. Other Scandinavian countries have also performed well with Norway and Sweden tied at second place (8.3) and Denmark bagging the tenth place with a score of 7.9. New Zealand (8.3) is the top-scoring country in the combined Asia and Oceana region followed closely by Singapore (8.2). Western Europe is also well represented in the top 10 with Switzerland (8.2), and The Netherlands and Luxemburg (8.1). Canada represents North America in the top-scoring group with a score of 8.0. At the bottom of the ranking are
Cameroon (4.3), Paraguay, Cote Dâ€™Ivoire and Algeria (4.1), Chad (3.9), Zimbabwe (3.8), Nigeria (3.7), Burundi (3.6), Bangladesh (3.4), and Venezuela (3.2).
Nepalâ€™s IPRI has remained at a stagnant 4.5 this year, as the last year. LP has remained stagnant at 3.3 while PPR and IPR have gone down by 0.1 point each to 5.9 and 4.1 as compared to 6.0 and 4.2 respectively last year. With this index, Nepal is still a nation with one of the weakest property rights in the world, securing 78th position out of 97 countries that were studied in detail.
This year’s IPRI report contains case studies on status of Intellectual Property Rights in Italy, Australia and Honk Kong. Besides these, there are case studies on the Legal and Political Environment in Spain, â€˜Women Empowerment and IPRIâ€™s Gender Equality Measureâ€™ in Pakistan and â€˜LEAP Zones and â€œInstitutional Leapfroggingâ€: the Honduran ZEDE innovationâ€™ in Honduras.
During the event, Dr. Chiranjivi Nepal stayed true to his roots as an economist and displayed great enthusiasm in supporting the importance of Property Rights in leading a nation towards economic development and prosperity. â€œAccess to natural resources or being natural resource rich is not enough to ensure richness,â€ he argued, â€œas strong property rights enforcements will naturally foster an environment for wealth creation.â€ Moreover, further supporting his strong beliefs for the importance of property rights, he said, â€œpolitical ideologies are not a barrier or impediment to growth, as evidenced by Finland, a socialist state, which is a powerhouse in terms of technological advancement because of its proper enforcement of property right laws.â€ In the case of Nepal, he provided strong evidence for the weak property rights situation by verifying the number of people who have lost their property in the guise of road expansion.
Mr. Bhimarjun as an expert in the legal system of Nepal provided a concise viewpoint on the issues related to property rights which are contentious in the current constituent assembly, namely: ceiling on earning, compensation on public earning, ceiling on land holding, and whether property is a fundamental right. He further added that UNâ€™s Fundamental Declaration on Human Rights recognizes property as a fundamental human right. He added that public acquisition of private property can only take place in the case of public interest and when such actions are taken due compensation is a requirement. Similarly, â€œan accountable government should take all necessary steps to ensure the public that the acquired property is being utilized for the same purpose as the pretence that led to such acquisition in the first placeâ€ he concluded.
Former CA member Mr. Khimlal Devkota stated that property rights are provisioned by law; hence, they are legal rights and cannot be accorded the position of fundamental rights. He explained that government planning on the allocation of private property is required and that compete freedom of property utilization through private parties will result in failure as verified by the recent economic downturn and failure of a number of corporations which ultimately required government intervention. Similarly, he suggested that private property ownership will not lead to economic freedom as such wealth owners will only be looking for themselvesâ€”the difficulties faced in the construction of transmission lines being an example. Asymmetric wealth distribution is a looming problem and an undeterred property acquisition would only aid those who are already rich, leaving the poor poorer he stated. Moreover, he argued, such conditions would foster an unequal and volatile social environment that could incubate unrest and disorder. In a world where 85 peopleâ€”who could easily influence world events to their whimâ€”posses more wealth than that held by half of the worldâ€™s population, he concluded, it is important to structure property rights around activities that are beneficial to the public as a whole.
This Index is expected to be helpful to politicians, economists, academicians, and entrepreneurs in learning about the necessity of protecting property rights around the world for world-wide economic growth.
Source: â€œSamriddhi, The Prosperity Foundationâ€