Honduran Charter City Loses Its Compass

An experimental plan to build a new charter city for 10 million people in Honduras has lost a key element, its expected chairman and chief founder, Paul Romer.
October 2, 2012, 8am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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As Elisabeth Malkin reports, Romer's plan, which landed in Honduras after a global search for interested parties, has been scuttled by the very type of shady decision-making that his theories on economic development (based on strong institutions and the rule of law) were formed in response to.    

Romer has apparently left the project, and, according to Malkin, "[t]he tipping point came with the announcement a few weeks ago that the Honduran agency set up to oversee the project had signed a memorandum of understanding with its first investor group. The news came as surprise to Mr. Romer. He believed that a temporary transparency commission he had formed with a group of well-known experts should have been consulted."

"The law setting up Honduras's experiment in a charter city, a special development region, or RED in its Spanish initials, creates flexibility that promotes innovations, but requires strict disclosure along the way, Mr. Romer said. 'The one absolute principle is a commitment to transparency,' he said."

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Published on Sunday, September 30, 2012 in The New York Times
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