The Dominica Business Forum Inc. plans to provide an opportunity for the the private sector to break its silence on “numerous issues relating to the economic development of Dominica.”
President of the organization, Severin Mckenzie, says a National Economic Forum: “Voices of the Private Sector”, will be held on February 6th, 2019.
“Its main focus will be on the key sectors of the economy including agriculture, commercial enterprises, tourism, manufacturing, education, health and other critical issues such as Climate change, Cannabis legalization and the impact of the Citizenship by Investment Programme,” Mckenzie said in a 2018 end of year message.
He said the role and status of the private sector within Dominica’s economy will also be highlighted.
McKenzie commended the private sector for its “great perseverance throughout those trying times” which followed the devastating passage of Hurricane Maria 2017.
“In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, the private sector in Dominica was challenged and, for many, it appeared that all hope was lost, but throughout 2018, our private sector enterprises demonstrated their resolve and resilience to rise from the ashes to the extent that, as we approach a new year, the private sector is more determined to take its rightful place as the engine of growth within the Dominican economy,” he said
He commended the efforts of the utility companies in restoring electricity, water and telecommunication services to most of the population and cited the reopening and commencement of upgraded facilities such as the new look Whitchurch IGA, the new Do It Center, Fresh Market and many other private sector enterprises as “a clear indication of the private sector’s determination to broaden its base within the free enterprise system, in spite of the challenges of doing business in Dominica.”
McKenzie pointed out that a few institutions never reopened after Maria “due to a lack of opportunity and various circumstances” and went on to lament the exit of Ross University School of Medicine, Dominica Brewery and Beverage Limited (Kubuli), the demise of Bello Products Ltd. and several other manufacturing and business enterprises which were “blown away” with Maria’s winds.
“We also continue to lament a public procurement environment in which local enterprises and talent are not given the opportunity to contract with the government on delivery of the more lucrative works such as housing and dredging, and which, in general, does not follow the current legislative protocol and generally lacks transparency,” Mckenzie said.
He added that growth of the local private sector in these areas has been clearly retarded due to the lack of opportunity.
“Consequently, in an increased market post Hurricane Maria, some sector players have been struggling to make a contribution to the economy. Notwithstanding these, without the contribution of the private sector in the recovery process in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, the situation in Dominica would have been much worse,” Mckenzie asserted.
He said that as another general election approaches in Dominica, the Dominica Business Forum Inc. intends to participate in, and promote educational discussions and events to enhance the level of consciousness of the population.
“The Dominica Business Forum Inc. is also concerned about the potential for political instability on the island and calls on all sides within the political spectrum to take the necessary measures through dialogue and consultation, to avoid any further deterioration of the investment climate in Dominica. History has proven that the Dominica private sector and citizenry are the most severely affected by both natural and man made disasters,” McKenzie remarked.
Asserting that the private sector continues to be the main source of employment in Dominica, Mckenzie stressed the need for vibrant private sector organisations and the protection of private sector investments in the country.
The Dominica Business Forum Inc. represents the interests of the Dominica Association of Industry and Commerce (DAIC), Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA), Dominica Manufacturers Association (DMA), Dominica Employer’s Federation (DEF), Builders and Contractors Association of Dominica (BCAD) and the OECS Business Council.
The organization’s president said membership is open to all private sector and civil society organisations who are interested in developing a free and just society as dictated in the constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica.
He stressed that the success of the private sector depends on itself and that 2019 will be an opportunity to regain its voice.