Inefficiency of state-controlled enterprises

Visualization of narrower problems
Inefficiency of government monopolies
Inefficiency of public enterprises
Monopolization of resources by public sector
Lack of enterprise in parastatals
Inefficient nationalized industries
Government owned and run enterprises are notoriously known for bureaucratic constraints, lack of investment incentives, pricing controls, centralized decision making, and restriction on hiring and firing workers. Control of businesses by government bureaucracies or by legislation is at best done in the context of the needs of the whole nation and at the worst in the context of personal ambition leading to wide spread corruption. In either case decisions are slow and unresponsive to the needs of the company. Profits often revert back to the government creating disincentives for management and labour to work more profitably. Investments are frequently insufficient. Price controls coupled with rising costs of labour and raw materials make unit costs high than prices, discourage efficient running of the company. Employment practices are dictated by political considerations rather than what benefits the corporation. Management jobs are often dependent upon approval of government overseers further eroding concern about effective business practices.

Where commercialization or demonopolization of public enterprises are planned by policy-makers as intermediate steps towards privatization, it may be difficult to maximize the efficiency of such enterprises because of lack of motivation of workers and management who know that privatization is the ultimate objective. It may also be difficult to undertake extensive reforms whose costs may not be recouped in the sale price of an enterprise.

[Developing countries] In almost every developing country the public sector undertakes a significant share of its production and investment through state-controlled enterprises. In the past their budgetary deficits have often been hidden by a lack of consolidated financial data, opaque budgetary procedures, extrabudgetary financing, implicit subsidies and protection from competition. More recently tight budget constraints, limits on domestic and external financing, and the effects of devaluation and trade liberalization have exposed the weakness of their finances and their negative effects on the fiscal stability of developing countries. Their contributions to rising public sector debt and growing foreign indebtedness are increasingly recognized as key issues in public finance.

[Industrialized countries] More than £23 million were lost through negligence and mismanagement of prison enterprises in the UK in 1985. There was concern in that case to distinguish between "limited efficiency", which is seen as desirable, and "inefficiency and neglect", which is what took place. Britain's private sector steel industry was complaining in 1992 of unfair competition and market distortion resulting from state-controlled steel enterprises in the EEC/EU.

1. The government is responsible for the welfare to its citizens and state owned and ran industries provide them with the dignity of work. By not participating in the productivity of society the unemployed are made second class citizens. The costs of subsidizing industries, even if they are inefficient is cheaper than making welfare payments.

2. While there are numerous examples of inefficient public enterprises in developing countries, this may be due more to general government policies or to overall economic environment than to deficiencies with the public enterprises themselves. Since privatization of them is often preceded or accompanied by commercialization and/or demonopolization of the firm concerned, as well as by wider economic reforms, it is in practice difficult to be sure which improvements in a firm's performance or in consumer welfare arose solely from privatization. The evidence suggests that public enterprises in developing or other countries are not necessarily less efficient than private firms in those countries.

(D) Detailed problems