Kaieteur News – The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) lacks the moral authority to mediate between the Government and the Opposition in seeking to have the two sides work together on the COVID-19 vaccination drive. Indeed, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) also lacks such authority.
It was the PSC which enthusiastically welcomed the measures imposed by the Government. In a statement, the PSC said, “The Private Sector Commission embraces and recommends that its member companies require that all those of its employees who refuse to be vaccinated must provide evidence of a medically-current COVID-19 negative test from infection before reporting to work, while continuing to encourage all of its employees to become vaccinated.”
The PSC also demanded that it be mandatory for all medical and security personnel in frontline contact with other persons to either be vaccinated or provide evidence of a medically-current COVID-19 negative test “… and that all places providing hospitality and entertainment services, including restaurants, require evidence of either vaccination or a medically-current COVID-19 negative test from its customers in order for them to receive service.”
Just recently, it again urged businesses to implement and enforce the gazetted COVID-19 guidelines which “requires the use of masks, social distancing and the presentation of proof of vaccination upon entry into public places.”
It was the PSC which assumed the role of cheerleader when the Government announced regulations which required persons to show proof of vaccination or produce a negative PCR test, for entry into public places. The PSC said then that it supported the efforts of the government to protect the vaccinated from the unvaccinated.
The GCCI, on the other hand, called on the public to play its part. In September a senior executive was quoted as saying, “Businesses have implemented numerous amounts of stringent policies to ensure that the customers are safe when they come in. Now that that has been done, we believe that it’s time for the general public to do their part.” This call came after the Government extended the need for proof of vaccination to private businesses.
What is ironic is that despite the PSC and GCCI supporting the COVID-19 guidelines, the local private sector has been the chief flouter of those regulations. It is only the commercial banks, certain supermarkets and a few big businesses which are implementing the requirement for proof of vaccination or negative PCR before the public can access services provided by private businesses.
On any given day you can visit thousands of private businesses which are not requiring proof of vaccination or a negative PCR. This is patently unfair to the few private sector entities which are making an effort to comply with the law.
The country’s commercial enterprises are among the chief culprits. And therefore, the representative organisations for the local private sector, namely the PSC and the GCCI, must first put their houses in order before acting as mediator between the Government and the Opposition in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination drive.
The PSC and the GCCI should police local businesses to ensure they are compliant with the law. The GCCI has a greater duty to do this since the commercial sector reeks of non-compliance, not only with respect to proof of vaccination but even in respect to the wearing of masks. There are many businesses in which the owners are often seen not wearing masks or wearing them improperly.
The GCCI’s proposal to bridge the differences between the Government and the Opposition in relation to the COVID-19 vaccination is commendable. But it is low-hanging fruit and it has come much too late – 74 percent of the adult population has been vaccinated with one dose and 48 percent with two doses. But there appears to be massive hesitancy by parents to vaccinate their children.
The Government and the Opposition working together now is not likely to affect the pace of vaccination or even to significantly reduce hesitancy.
Before the GCCI agrees to do anything, it must arm itself with the moral authority to do so. And the best way to don such authority is to police its constituents and insist that they comply with the COVID-19 guidelines.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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