Charter City

March 1st, 2011
by Alfonso Ebanks

 

he people of this country-and especially the powers that be-have for many years been overly conservative in their attitudes towards change. The Honduran National Congress and its publicly elected members have always striven to maintain the status quo. Congress members have over the decades rejected any proposed investment that could possibly make a positive change in the lives of the people they supposedly represent.
This resistance to change has not only been a disease of the politicians but also of the local businessmen who for some reason see change as a threat to their commercial enterprises. Well, change is upon us; it is no longer a wait and see proposition. During the past few weeks Congress has been busy making changes in the way it conducts business as well as changes to the country’s constitution, which is supposed to allow the populace to directly decide its future through referendums and plebiscites.
Recently Congress members have voted almost unanimously to allow foreign investors to create a Charter City on Honduran soil. Most of us have never heard of charter cities, and most of those who have heard about it do not seem to understand exactly what it’s all about.
Here’s some information which may be useful to those of us who are not too sure what the National Congress has approved for the benefit of us Hondurans. A Charter City is a city-scale special zone that can take many forms. The three most common requirements are that: (1) the host country is to provide an uninhabited piece of land for the creation of the city; (2) the source country or countries are to provide the residents; (3) a country or countries as guarantor is to insure that the city’s charter is respected.
The whole idea here is to create an environment within the new city which will attract foreign investors who otherwise would not invest in the host country due to political instability or other unfavorable social factors. ┬áThis new city will be completely autonomous so that the charter city’s investors will be governed by the rules of the city, not by the laws of the host country. This city will appoint its own authorities, police force and other civil servants.
The approximate size of the piece of land required for this purpose is around 1,000 square kilometers, which enables the city to build an international sized airport, power plants for electricity generation and waterworks installations for the whole city. Within the city there will be hospitals, schools, commissaries, green areas and housing for all its workers.
The monies to operate the city and maintain the infrastructure will be derived from the renting of the land, because even though the investors will be able to build the buildings they need for their operations, they will never be able to own the land that they build upon.
The main point that convinced the Congressmen to approve this project was the idea that the Charter City would seek the workers they will need from among the thousands of unemployed Hondurans. However, Congressmen overlooked the fact that the city is in no way obligated to hire their workers from this country, especially when more qualified workers than this country can produce are needed. This of course will depend on the kind of manufacturing plants and other job sources they eventually build.
The Charter City project could be a great thing for this country; but it could also be a source for resentment and prejudice by those not directly reaping the benefits from such a grand endeavor.

v9-3-alfonsoThe people of this country-and especially the powers that be-have for many years been overly conservative in their attitudes towards change. The Honduran National Congress and its publicly elected members have always striven to maintain the status quo. Congress members have over the decades rejected any proposed investment that could possibly make a positive change in the lives of the people they supposedly represent.

This resistance to change has not only been a disease of the politicians but also of the local businessmen who for some reason see change as a threat to their commercial enterprises. Well, change is upon us; it is no longer a wait and see proposition. During the past few weeks Congress has been busy making changes in the way it conducts business as well as changes to the country’s constitution, which is supposed to allow the populace to directly decide its future through referendums and plebiscites.

Recently Congress members have voted almost unanimously to allow foreign investors to create a Charter City on Honduran soil. Most of us have never heard of charter cities, and most of those who have heard about it do not seem to understand exactly what it’s all about.

Here’s some information which may be useful to those of us who are not too sure what the National Congress has approved for the benefit of us Hondurans. A Charter City is a city-scale special zone that can take many forms. The three most common requirements are that: (1) the host country is to provide an uninhabited piece of land for the creation of the city; (2) the source country or countries are to provide the residents; (3) a country or countries as guarantor is to insure that the city’s charter is respected.

The whole idea here is to create an environment within the new city which will attract foreign investors who otherwise would not invest in the host country due to political instability or other unfavorable social factors. ┬áThis new city will be completely autonomous so that the charter city’s investors will be governed by the rules of the city, not by the laws of the host country. This city will appoint its own authorities, police force and other civil servants.

The approximate size of the piece of land required for this purpose is around 1,000 square kilometers, which enables the city to build an international sized airport, power plants for electricity generation and waterworks installations for the whole city. Within the city there will be hospitals, schools, commissaries, green areas and housing for all its workers.

The monies to operate the city and maintain the infrastructure will be derived from the renting of the land, because even though the investors will be able to build the buildings they need for their operations, they will never be able to own the land that they build upon.

The main point that convinced the Congressmen to approve this project was the idea that the Charter City would seek the workers they will need from among the thousands of unemployed Hondurans. However, Congressmen overlooked the fact that the city is in no way obligated to hire their workers from this country, especially when more qualified workers than this country can produce are needed. This of course will depend on the kind of manufacturing plants and other job sources they eventually build.

The Charter City project could be a great thing for this country; but it could also be a source for resentment and prejudice by those not directly reaping the benefits from such a grand endeavor.

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