Private sector urged to work with political leaders

The private sector will have a strong voice at key discussions during this year’s 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting, including the Private Sector Dialogue with Forum leaders today.

It follows a meeting by members of the private sector from the Pacific region, yesterday, to discuss issues at a macro level affecting their businesses.

The theme of yesterday’s meeting was “ The Blue Pacific -- a sea of commerce challenges and opportunities.”

The meeting featured two private sector representatives, Stephen Lyon, a conservationist and business owner based in Rarotonga, and Morris Brownjohn of Papua New Guinea, from P.N.A. Tuna Commission. 

The delegates participated in free and frank discussions that covered the many concerns around the region. What came through the very robust dialogue, were two very distinct objectives. 

The first being a collective desire for the Pacific to take more control of their ocean resources to maximise commercial returns for local and regional economies. 

Second was the call for the environment to remain a pillar of everything we do.

“To realise our true and full economic potential we must do all we can to develop and use local expertise,” Mr. Lyon said. 

“Business is not for the faint hearted and it’s much like politics in that way, there isn’t the same level of security that jobs provide; it is risky -- one day business can thrive and then a shift in the market makes a business disappear, that is the nature of business.”

Mr. Lyon pointed out that more businesses fail than succeed.

“We must ensure they are supported and encouraged within our local and regional economies and protected from predatory actions by distant players and competition from government itself.

“The environment remains a pillar of everything we do, therefore we must continue to develop a partnership between mining companies, regulators, and the environmental research community, that ensures we develop the best practice and do everything required to minimise the damage, while still developing the economic benefits of this activity.”

Before the discussions began, facilitator Lelei Lelaulu reminded the private sector delegates of their role in the security of the Pacific region and urged that they must work in partnership with political leaders. 

 “We will discuss what you consider to be the most important points because you’re the private sector,” he said.

“We all know that no democracy can function without a dynamic private sector which is energised by leaders who can give you the enabling environment in order to be productive and to be profitable.”

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