…lending support until end of elections
By Leonard Gildarie
The private sector says that it recognises the legitimacy of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) and would be lending support to it until the end of elections.
With the ERC mandated to ensure reduced racial tensions, there have been questions from many quarters about the legality of the body.
On Wednesday, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Ramesh Dookhoo, made it clear that businesses that are part of the umbrella body back its functioning.
“We do recognise the ERC as a legitimate body which we will support from now to the end of the elections period,” he emphasised.
Dookhoo was at the time addressing a packed gathering of business leaders who turned out to hear Donald Ramotar, Presidential Candidate of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic, unveil plans for the private sector once he is elected President.
The General Elections are constitutionally due this year.
Ramotar was the last of the Presidential Candidates appearing before business leaders in interactive sessions.
Khemraj Ramjattan, of the Alliance For Change, and Brigadier David Granger of the People’s National Congress Reform, had already presented their detailed plans.
Speaking on the position of the PSC, Dookhoo, an executive at beverage giant, Banks DIH Limited, noted that the sessions will provide the private sector with some insight into the policy directions and priorities of the three candidates. It will provide a window through which other citizens, corporate and individual would have been able to hear the views of candidates.
“As a sector we are going to be discussing and analysing the three presentations, particularly as to how we anticipate the various positions to affect the business community and wider economy and society.
There will no doubt be comparative analysis, but such analysis is for our own consumption, so no one should expect to see the private sector bodies endorsing (or condemning) any candidate based on these presentations.”
Arguing for the role of the private sector in the political discourse, the official noted that several points of tension exist between what is seen as the private sector’s self-interest versus the national interest, as well as the view that the private sector’s self-interest seems coincident with the political status quo.
“From our perspective we see a coincidence between private sector’s interests and the national interest. In the latter, we have no vested political interests to support or defend, but it will always be that positions and interests will coincide.”
On the issue of exchange rate stability, PSC would like to see an improvement of the local currency against the US dollar benchmark. “…but we would not like to see volatile swings in both directions.”
Making it clear that businesses must have a say, Dookhoo challenged Guyana to demand more from its politicians.
“We must have them explain, we must have them expound and we must reject empty promises.
If three opponents are fighting for a prize there must be rules of engagement, and those rules are being established as we speak.”
He urged the political parties to sign on to the codes of conduct of the Media Monitoring Unit, the ERC and GECOM.
“I would like to appeal to the public not to get carried away during the contract, but to act responsibly to your party, your following and your country.”
Stressing that the private sector has built trust with the political parties in and out of office, Dookhoo acknowledged that other non-governmental organisations also have their right to be heard and to articulate their views.
“We do not support any form of non-electoral power initiatives and we believe in the concept of a strong and constructive opposition as a major balance for democracy.”
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