Over the past decade or so, there have been moments of public disagreement between the two sides, with accusations being levelled across the table. The latest of such discourse cantered around the calls by the Chamber of Industry & Commerce and other civic organizations, for the removal of the Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Leroy Benjamin, following the scandal, related to the illegal removal of names from the Voters List, for the recent Nevis Island Elections.
It was therefore not surprising that on Saturday night, Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas used the opening portion of his address at the banquet, to try to appeal for a more harmonious relationship.
“Public/private sector dialogue is healthy and necessary for national development”, said Douglas. He continued by stating that his government has consistently shown that it is opened to inputs and feedback from the private sector and NGO community.
The Prime Minister said that he believes that the country has prospered because of this fundamental inclusive policy of his government.
“Quite frankly I prefer that such public private sector dialogue focuses on positive and progressive ideas and programs designed to stimulate and facilitate economic growth; designed to stimulate; designed to strengthen the social safety net; and to improve the quality of life for all our citizens,” stated the government leader.
He said his government prefers these positive and progressive ideas, rather than speculative ideas at anytime
“I also prefer that our various conversations, at least commence in privately organized communications and then allow them to blossom out into more public dialogue as is necessary, with the ultimate aim to bring optimum improvement and growth for our country, “appealed the Head of Government.
But as he continued to pound away at his point he opined, “Unfortunately I have found that too much of our public private sector discourse starts in the public media and other public arenas. This of course can cause mistrust or doubt of motive and too often questions the objectivity as the case may be. While I understand that emotions can sometimes get the better of us, we all have to be careful that we do not allow our own personal feelings to cause us to lose our mutual respect for each other, before we even start our exchanges among ourselves.”
Prime Minister Douglas told the private sector members in attendance that he wishes to renew his pledge, that he will continue to welcome constructive input at all levels; and that they (in government), will do their best at all times, to listen to wisdom wherever they hear it, even when they hear it in more public or political arenas than they would prefer.
Douglas said he was using his address to provide a snapshot into key areas of focus, in the government’s socio-economic program of development.