Sunday, March 02, 2008

P2P Lobbying

I was chatting to a friend of mine about all the talk about Lobbying in the U.S. elections and how Sri Lanka doesn’t seem to have a ‘formal lobbying’ process, there are no PACs (Political Action Committees), no people with the job title of ‘lobbyist’ or pressure groups waiting with campaign support in exchange for favorable policy.

Actually we do, but in Sri Lanka and much of the developing world, policy matters little. It’s people in control who matter. Lobbying in Sri Lanka is essentially peer-to-peer – you want something done you contact your man in Parliament. He probably can get it done for you. To keep this relationship going you keep your guy happy. Invite him for parties; send him monthly gifts, so on. I personally know businessmen as part of their mandate in city-based business associations send gifts to the local minister and fund ‘local initiatives’ undertaken in the name of the minister.

Lot of people think money to politicians comes from them stealing out of contracts, etc. This is probably the case, but a good part of the wealth of politicians is from, well, P2P Lobbying.

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