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Our Differences Ought Not to Divide Us

DOMINICA BUSINESS FORUM Inc Press Release 16th September 2021

It is with continued national pride and the desire to enhance the greater good that the Dominica Business Forum Inc (DBF Inc) continues to facilitate discussions on significant issues affecting the business, socio-economical and socio-political landscapes of our beloved island.  Our efforts to create a forum for open, frank, and respectful discussions on getting appropriate solutions and mitigating measures to deal with and curtail both the spread and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic follow our leadership in areas such as electoral reform.  DBF Inc intends to broaden such discussions to include areas such as public procurement and fiscal incentives that will enhance and support broad economic growth, signified by increased employment opportunities and a more resilient private sector.

DBF Inc acknowledges with gratefulness and thanks the participation of our guests and the general public in these events that it hosts.  At our last event, one of our guests and participants had strong opinions on a possible solution to stemming the spread and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Following the event, there was some noted disagreement with that position within the public, on radio, and on social media.  Such debates and discussions can be very healthy and lead to continued open discussions focused on fine-tuning decisions towards workable solutions for the public at large.  The DBF Inc encourages these healthy, respectable, and progressive discussions aimed at the common good towards creating a better environment to work, recreate, and do business in.

The DBF Inc, as the private sector umbrella body, maintains its position that each individual ought to be allowed his/her personal right to choose on the issue of vaccination against COVID-19 in keeping with his/her understanding of the impact on himself and his community.  DBF Inc encourages further education of the public in the dissemination of the findings from the growing empirical data on both the efficacity and impact, on individuals and public health, of the range of COVID-19 vaccines in order that persons can make well-informed and responsible decisions on whether they ought to take one or any of these vaccines. 

DBF Inc is of the view that in our efforts to achieve the common good, individuals in the society or their personal rights and freedom, ought not to be coercively or forcefully sacrificed.  Every single person is as precious as the other in our society.  Human sacrifice ought not to be a building block of our society.  Any decision which has the potential of sacrificing individual lives, or strangling their socio-economic positions, or their right to choose based on individual health, religious belief, or conscience, ought to be truly examined and reviewed before implementation, in order to achieve the greatest level of acceptability and mitigation possible.  It is against this background that we consider such propositions on mandatory vaccination as a socially retrogressive step in a truly civilized society.

It is also against this very background that we do not support the call to boycott any individual business based on an individual utilizing his right to free speech and opinions on any matter in the public domain.  Dominica has to learn to be tolerant of its own citizens and not engage in self-destructive efforts in the name of individual rights, or as a remedy to the eradication of opinions that we may find intolerable.   Hate is not one of our beneficial attributes, and ought not to be an attribute at all.

The call to boycott any local business will never have a net positive impact on Dominica, especially in this challenging socio-economic environment made worse by the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic.  Any local service or business that we destroy, or weaken, will only be replaced by foreign persons, who rarely have greater national interest, waiting to provide such replacement.   The number of local businesses replaced by indifferent foreign owners in the last two decades should be instructive enough.  Further, and in addition, we have lost too many local businesses through the impact of Hurricane Maria and the less than prudent fiscal incentives available to enhance the economic growth and financial success of local businesses over the last two decades.  We are yet to find a replacement for beloved contributors to the economy and buttresses of our national pride such as Dominica Brewery and Beverages (Kubuli), Ross University, and Aerial Tram, among others, while DCP’s successor is still a shadow of what its precursor used to be.

DBF Inc, therefore, calls on all individuals to cease actions, or the call for actions, which will not result in positive development in this country – economically, socially, or politically.  We encourage calm, frank, and respectful discussions on matters of national interest without seeking the demise of those with opposing views, and call on all making public statements to be sensitive and do so responsibly.   Those of us in leadership positions, in particular, must be mindful that the level of reaction to and impact of a statement or opinion, is not only influenced by the substance of what is said, but also depends to a fair degree on who said it and whether they have, or can influence, the power to implement an action.   History has shown us that a country or community can descend into a state of self-destructive anarchy when persons perceive that far-reaching consequences on their individual rights, freedom, or financial positions can result from the impact of statements and opinions of persons who have a level of power to implement.  We should all exercise the appropriate level of tolerance, self-control, and calm response needed to avoid and mitigate against such occurrences.

It is clear that the issue of mandatory vaccination, or the proposals to curtail the rights to individual freedom of those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19, is very sensitive and has the potential to self-destructive actions and the descent to anarchy.  Much effort is required to engage in respectful discussions and education on the subject matter.  The DBF Inc, therefore, calls on the Ministry of Health, Wellness, and New Health Investments to lead such all-inclusive education and discussion on the data available on the impact and benefits of vaccinations against the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We need more collaborative efforts at solutions.