Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar says there must be a relationship between business and politics in order to bring about change in the country. She was the guest speaker at the Downtown Owners and Merchants Association's (Doma) quarterly business meeting at the Jaffa Restaurant, Queen's Park Oval, Port-of-Spain, on Tuesday. Persad-Bissessar was responding to a statement by Doma president Gregory Aboud during his address.
Aboud said: "Madame Opposition Leader we know that business and politics do not mix. "To certify that point, we see repeatedly that many of the relationships between businessmen and politicians are usually quiet exchanges in which the parties do not wish it known that they are involved together." Persad-Bissessar said the two entities had to come together to ensure each other's success. She said: "Business and politics must mix because the politics must facilitate the business environment to make the business community successful. "And when the business community is successful then the rest of the nation is successful."
The Opposition Leader said while the two may not mix on partisan basis, "we must hold hands to walk this pathway now if we are to change the Government's model (of governance) and if we are to rescue our nation. "So I say business and politics must mix or else we would not get out from the kind of situation that you have described in terms of our governance model," she said. Guests included members of Doma and the business sector, Opposition MP Dr Tim Gopeesingh and Opposition Senator Mervyn Assam, German and Indian High Commissioners, Angela Persad, president of the T&T Chamber of Industry and Commerce, and other representatives. Persad-Bissessar also spoke briefly about issues such as governance, the economic downturn and issues affecting Doma.
She said there was a low level of confidence in Government's ability to manage the nation's resources especially when efforts were being made internationally to rebuild public trust. She added: "How can anyone trust a government that fails to collaborate with its business sector or to consult with interest groups or even conduct proper research on large scale, multi-billion dollar projects such as the Rapid Rail? "How can anyone trust a government that ignores its own local construction sector and labour force and arbitrarily imports foreign contractor and labour on projects defined by corruption, design flaws, quality issues and cost over-runs; projects that were ill-conceived to begin with?" she questioned.
Doma president Gregory Aboud yesterday said the job of governance needed analysis not only from the business sector but from everyone.
He said Caribbean people were suffering from "a kind of political fatigue." Aboud said like other Caribbean citizens, T&T was concerned about the persistent failure in the delivery of basic services to the people of the country. Aboud said: "Businessmen are problem-solvers.
Our analysis is simple. We prefer to think of the issues of governance in our country as issues of a management model that has failed over and over again." One national failure that was consistent was a disappointment, Aboud said. "But if it is a failure that repeats itself habitually across different administrations and across borders and different islands, then that is a regional tragedy." He said there was a total absence of merit and performance management in the delivery of service to ordinary people. He said once politicians were put in power their opinions "hardened like concrete."