Chairman of the Integrity in Public Office Commission Julian Johnson has called on the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC) and its members to speak out on issues of national concern.
Johnson was addressing DAIC members when he met with them last week to discuss the work of the IPO Commission during its first term of operation which ended in September of 2011.
“As I understand it, you are the economy. You represent most powerful economic group in the society. And I’m saying that from time to time important issues of national concern come on the national agenda,” Johnson said.
He drew reference to previous years when he regularly spoke with the Association on matters that were relevant to the state of the nation, as Permanent Secretary in a number of Ministries.
Johnson stated, “When I was PS of Agriculture, Trade, Industry, Tourism, Consumer Protection, Price Control and Natural Resources, in the 70s and 80s, I interfaced a lot with the DAIC and they came and discussed Price Control, delays by the Ministry in approving their request for duty free etc, but there was also concern. You got statements on national issues, but we’re not seeing that and we are saying that all institutions of the country must make their contribution in enlightened debate and public discussions.”
He added a challenge to DAIC to come out and speak on national issues referring to a four-part article that he had written about a particular incident that sparked debate about Government’s Spending and asked that the Association seek to add to public debate on such issues.
He remarked, “I am throwing a challenge to DAIC that they should do that. There are issues that affect all of us, your pockets and mine. For example, an issue came to us as a Commission and we dealt with it and it’s in our report. But I felt that there were other issues, other legal principles and procedures that were required to be addressed in that matter. That is why I wrote the article on the question of public procurement and value for money in the expenditure of public funds. Has the DAIC had no position on such an issue and was it expressed publicly? Wouldn’t a reasoned, well analyzed input from DAIC enhance public debate and dialogue on such an issue?”
PRO of the DAIC Genevieve Astaphan stated that a number of policy papers have been forwarded to the Administration and that some dialogue has taken place behind closed doors as well and while they may not be public, these audiences have led to changes that the DAIC has borne witness to.