– Minister Ali tells Linden Chamber of Commerce
Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Irfaan Ali is of the view that development and investment require a stable environment, one that fosters positive energy in order to secure business and investment platforms.
These were his comments at a recent luncheon that was held at Watooka House, for the private sector community in Linden, Region Ten.
“There seems to be a likeness to associate politics and politicians at the centre of the problem. Now, if we agree that politics is the cause and effect, then we are also agreeing that we can’t avoid the politics of the situation.”
The Minister pointed out that having established this fact, the issue then, is how to develop politics that would bring the best out of the situation.
“In my humble respectful view, that politics must be based on development and the people’s interest, once the priority in the wrangling of the politics is development and the people’s interest, then I think we will strike an equal balance.”
It is only then Minister Ali said all efforts will be directed to development and people’s interest, which is essential today, especially when there is competition for scarce resources.
The Minister also underscored the need for investments that are free from political rhetoric.
“This is important to politicians. Sometimes in our agitation, we allow the rhetoric to stifle the society. There is a delicate balance in how much rhetoric we put out there because investors are careful in investing in countries where the political rhetoric is dominant and negative.”
While acknowledging that some amount of rhetoric is important, the Minister said the rhetoric must have as its hallmark the development imperative.
“I have outlined some aspects, that society must be free from extremism; investors look at society and analyse for themselves.”
Minister Ali also stressed the need for a cohesive social culture, which is critical in order to attract investment.
“We cannot attract investment with a divided social culture, it must be transformative. When they look at possible investment areas, they must see a good work culture.”
Further, the Minister highlighted some areas where there is a lot of potential in the Region 10 communities. Some of these include community-based tourism, manufacturing and agro processing, and transportation hub and terminal.
“I assure you that we are willing to join you in developing a sustainable future and pathway that will ensure the livelihood of all our people.”
However, in moving forward, Minister Ali told the Lindeners that there is consensus for the need to ‘rid ourselves of the devils of the past’.
“At the level of development, we have to cleanse ourselves of the devils of the past; we have to be able to confront the present and aspire to the future with the recognition that whatever occurred in the past that create negative energy is a lesson that we must learn from and not a subject that should dictate our process of thinking moving into the future.”
He further called on the Linden business community to look at their development in the context of creating or achieving the potential of being a gateway.
“I wish to view the gateway in the context of development, it must be free from encumbrances, it must be open to every stakeholder, it must be accessible to everyone, and it must be able to create opportunities for every single person.”
The Commerce Minister also spoke of the need to move away from the mindset of isolation.
“Having said that it is important for us to understand that we must not be carried away by isolating ourselves, sometimes in small economies, much less societies that have small communities in small economies, we tend to isolate ourselves from the global perspective.”
In so doing, he said societies lock themselves into only the potential that is generated in that isolation, “…but globalisation has thought us that in order for us to be part of the whole and in order for us to be competitive we have to open up that isolation, so when you look at the development of Region 10 and Linden it must not be in isolation of what is happening nationally.”
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