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Accounting for privatisation in Bangladesh: Testing World Bank claims

Uddin, S and Hopper, T (2003) 'Accounting for privatisation in Bangladesh: Testing World Bank claims.' Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 14 (7). 739 - 774. ISSN 1045-2354

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Abstract

The World Bank and the IMF have encouraged many less developed countries (LDCs) to pursue privatisation policies. Development economists and World Bank reports claim this facilitates development by improving controls within enterprises and external regulation of financial markets acting on external accounting reports. This paper questions these beliefs. It compares the post-privatisation performance of companies in Bangladesh examined in a World Bank report with the authors' own research on the same companies. The World Bank report reported that the success of the privatisations established the case for more. In the research reported here, only one of the privatised companies was judged a commercial success, though the unavailability and dubious accuracy of accounting reports prevented any definitive assessment. Above all, the paper questions the narrow criteria adopted by the World Bank report - namely profitability - and the neglect of employment conditions, trade union and individual rights; social returns; and financial transparency and accountability to external constituents. Our evidence suggested that privatisation has not increased returns to society: privatised companies' contributions to state revenue declined in real terms and as a proportion of value added. Transparent external reports failed to materialise as required by law and there was evidence of untoward transactions affecting minority shareholders, creditors, and tax collecting institutions. Internal controls may have become more commercial but at the cost of declining employment, wages, quality of working life, and employee rights. The World Bank claims rest upon efficiency benefits trickling down to all but the effects of privatisation may have been a redistribution of power and wealth to the new owners. This paper argues that the IMF, the World Bank, and Western capitalist states have not provided the technical infrastructure and organisational capacity to execute their neo-liberal privatisation agenda, which rests on dubious socio-economic assumptions. Our unfavourable evaluation of privatisation in Bangladesh is not unique. It has been happening again and again around the world. © 2003 Published by Elsevier Science Ltd.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Essex Accounting Centre
Depositing User: Shahzad Uddin
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2017 10:33
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2017 10:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/16709

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