The government and the private sector

Several months ago this newspaper was briefed by Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Norman McLean about the planned staging of a public/private business/economic forum which, as we understood it, was intended to chart a course for a longer-term relationship between the business sector and the new political administration.

In the previous year representatives of the private sector and the Ramotar administration had met at a similar type of forum arising out of which, presumably, were outcomes that also had to do with the future of public/private sector relations. The public has never been apprised of the outcomes of that forum nor, as far as this newspaper is aware, were any of whatever decisions made at the forum, implemented.

In the case of the more recent promised forum, that was to have originally taken place in September and, according to Mr McLean, was to have included participation from the diaspora. Not too many other details appeared to be available at the time.

As the weeks went by there was no real evidence of any serious planning towards the intended September event. One would have expected that at the very least there might have been announcements made about public/private sector consultations and about the setting up of committees/groups to fine tune – perhaps on a sectoral basis – the forum. It might have been expected too that some information would have been forthcoming on the input from the diaspora including, particularly, the areas in which its contributions might have been expected.

A period of several weeks elapsed during which nothing was heard from either the government or the private sector about the forum and a point was eventually reached where it became clear that the event would not take place in September as had been announced.

Our enquiries with the private sector were responded to with word that the event would now take place in November (early in November, as far as we recall) though the manifest evidence that no planning appeared to be taking place towards meeting that deadline suggested that the November promise was by no means a sure thing.

The government and the private sector, meanwhile appeared to be far more preoccupied with issues like crime and, more recently, the Anti-Terrorism Bill. On both issues there appeared to be no real evidence of a meeting of minds.

November has come and gone and the promised forum has not taken place. Indeed, it never seemed at any point that the forum would be staged. On the surface at least the government never seemed to be particularly enthused by the idea. Certainly, it has never made a public pronouncement suggesting that it was looking forward to the engagement. For its part, the private sector struck a posture of what can, at best, be described indifference, communicating the impression that sitting down with the political administration to discuss how the two could collectively take the country’s economy forward, was not exactly on the top of its agenda.


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