Book on energy policy reviewed

Posted on September 1, 2014  /  0 Comments

Somehow, electricity lacks the sexiness of ICTs. People debate how many households have mobiles, but few know how many households have electricity. This on a subject Lenin thought was so important that he proclaimed “Socialism + Electricity = Communism.” Not that I advocate Communism, Lenin forbid.

So I was very pleased when a book on energy policy was launched by a Sri Lankan Minister. One should always encourage intellectual activities by politicians, but this was on a subject I’ve been trying to push into the public discourse for some time.

Not that I had the time, but I studied the book and wrote a review. Here is an excerpt:

On pp. 205-07, the author discusses infrastructure reforms in the United Kingdom in 1984 and states: “In a very short period of time, investment in telecom doubled. Although there was a price spike at the start, competition subsequently drove down the prices dramatically. (Sri Lanka, taking a cue from Britain, privatized its own telecom institution with equally successful results).”

I was surprised to find such unqualified praise in a book pervaded by statist thinking and policy recommendations. But it was, sadly, an aberration. Nowhere is there recognition that the flaws in the energy sector documented by the author could be caused by structural problems that can only be remedied by the kinds of reforms he praised in telecom. The recommendations are for more of the same failed statist nostrums.

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