The B.C. government’s post-pandemic economic recovery plan won’t be seen until this fall, after a round of consultations guided by an internationally-known economist who bills herself as being “on a mission to save capitalism from itself.”
B.C. needs clear missions to go with its new $500-million InBC investment fund, University College London professor Mariana Mazzucato said Wednesday, describing her role as an advisor to Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon on reshaping B.C. to deal with the economic and climate shocks of the future. Kahlon describes that fund as a way to assist a “triple bottom line” approach to investing that includes social and environmental goals, which he calls “people, planet, profits.”
Doling out innovation money to a list of key industries like forestry, mining and technology and then measuring their growth isn’t the way to go, Mazzucato said. Developed countries had solid growth numbers in 2008 when a world financial and banking crisis struck, showing a need for a broader state role in steering the economy.
“Instead of looking at those sectors as a static list, it’s really the reverse,” she said by video link from London. “The question is, what are the problems? What are the problems around climate change? What are the problems around inequality? What are the problems around gender parity?”
Mazzucato’s long list of achievements has made her an international figure, advising Sweden, South Africa, Argentina, the United Nations and the World Health Organization, chairing its Council on the Economics of Health for All.
“It’s not enough just to have a public fund providing patient finance, as important as that is, unless it’s also a mission-oriented public fund, so that we’re providing patient, long-term finance to those actors and sectors in the economy that are willing to work with the government on achieving these goals,” Mazzucato said.
Kahlon cited the NDP government’s project to reorganize B.C.’s forest industry as an example of Mazzucato’s “bottom-up” approach to economic development. Long-term Crown forest tenures are being redistributed with a greater share for Indigenous land title holders and an effort to assist small-scale producers and new products.
Consultation on the wider economic recovery plan with business, labour and Indigenous leaders will extend through this summer and the plan is expected next fall, Kahlon said.