On an equal footing

Polygram's possible action against the Hungarian Government over its decision to overlook the company in a privatisation bid may be perfectly justified in law. After all, competition rules are competition rules and discrimination is discrimination. Countries entering a market economy have to learn to deal with the trappings of such including the rigours of competition.

But allowances have to be made for the development of such countries so they can compete. The former Eastern Bloc countries are struggling to make it in a capitalist world. It is a dangerous tightrope to walk and the government in Hungary, for one, is finding it difficult to balance the noisy demand for more consumer goods with the need to maintain the nation's own character.

Is it so surprising that a developing market wants to encourage home grown business and discriminate in favour of its national culture? Surely, the onus is on developing countries to assist such countries to develop so that they too will be able to compete on an equitable basis.