7 June 2007

Freedom of financial information

Businesses often conceal information behind the veil of commercial confidentiality. According to economists, markets work best when consumers have full information about a product and its pricing. For large deals, there is no take-it-or-leave-it price list. Therefore it would be in the best interest of consumers if all large transactions had to be reported annually, eg on a company web site, along with a brief description of the transaction. The level could start high at £1m and reduce gradually over time.

As well as helping consumers, it would help satisfy the public that business deals were done ethically, and could expose alleged misdemeanours by such people of BAE, Lord Black and David Mills, as well as detail how public money is being spent, eg for PFI or out-sourcing contracts

Although those affected with moan loudly about the red tape involved, I see this as a reasonable price that they have to pay for the commercial freedom that they have. I see it as being on a par with the requirement for political parties to disclose their financiers. On the plus side, businesses would also have a better Social and Corporate Responsibility status.

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