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More on Honduras’s Charter City in the Making

February 21, 2011

In case you missed this in the WSJ last week, Mary Anastasia O’Grady wrote up a good column on the Honduran effort to build a free market city:

The idea is simple: A sizable piece of unpopulated government land is designated for use as a model city. A charter that will govern the city is drafted and the Congress approves it. A development authority is appointed by the national government. The authority signs contracts with the investors who will develop the infrastructure. The city opens for business under rules that act as a magnet for investment.

Sound fanciful? Perhaps, until the chief architect of the plan, 35-year-old Octavio Sánchez, points out that “model cities” are nothing new. “What I love about the concept,” President Porfirio Lobo’s chief of staff tells me in an interview, “is two things. First, that we will employ the best practices from similar projects around the world that have been successful. Second that it is entirely voluntary for people to move in. They are the ones who will protect it.”

Who is Octavio Sanchez? A John James Cowperthwaite in the making? The process isn’t very clear to me, but I wonder how likely it is that the Congress will approve a Hong Kong like charter. We shall see in the next few months.

This week Mr. Sánchez and Mr. Lobo will travel to South Korea and Singapore, where they will analyze successful model cities to aid in drawing up the first charter. They will also be looking for investors. Mr. Sánchez says that it is important that more than one model city is launched so that rule designers will have to compete.

Rules. Competition. It sounds like he reads this blog.

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