The Festive Season with no Goose!
This time last year, many of us had not so much as heard if there was such a virus known as Corona. By February this year, the crown-shaped pathogen had become a household name, with the kindergarten children quickly catching up. Oblivious to what laid on the horizon of a new 2020, now characterized by massive job loss, reduction in wages and the accompanying restlessness and fear, many spent their "piggy-bank's" content on Independence Celebrations, WCMF, Christmas and Carnival. This is the usual cycle of our major national festivities, and the biggest consumption contributors to our economy. It is known by all Dominican businessmen that Independence Celebrations and Christmas [about 8 weeks apart], account for, in some cases, as much as 40% of annual sales.
Many have observed a pattern in the behaviour of certain elements of our society when faced with situations resembling a "disaster", "fear", "panic", "inertia", etc. The record and stored footage will reveal a repeated behavioural display, almost by instinct, following the nation-demics created by David, Erika and Maria. In each of these three instances of looting and wanton destruction of business enterprise, the population was restless...substantially dissatisfied with economic and social issues. In each instance, people were "fearful". They witnessed or expected "disaster". They exhibited "panic" and "inertia." In each instance, major sub-groupings of residents were not happy with the administration of public affairs. This is not to say that another political party in governance would not face the same pressures from dissatisfied residents. Instead, it is saying that it has become a strongly-held belief among private sector operatives, leaders and representatives that in events of national restlessness, our people exhale on the private sector.
In the coming weeks, the increased consumption of entertainment, traditional wear and cuisine will be greatly manifested by all, and it will be left to be seen whether the reduced means of consumption will result in an elevated security risk to the business community. There is this eerie feeling that with joblessness reigning supreme, and with no end in sight for the pandemic, it requires very little to spark idle labour into destructive action. In Dominica, as is all Caribbean States, people are already burdened with several tons of personal anger and dissatisfaction with their lot in life, a situation which worsens with every news of the social and economic impacts of COVID-19.
In our case, the private sector is always the scapegoat and enemy of choice, and is subject to waves-and-waves of looting and destruction to property to the extent that many private investments have been reduced to "bare rocks." And even those bare rocks are likely to take the brunt of destruction for several weeks thereafter.
For private enterprise, addressing and advocating for public security to aid the protection of corporate property is part of risk management. Enterprise CANNOT seat back and allow the fallout of public order to rape and kill their investments.
It is the responsibility of our security forces and political governors to address criminal activities with a view to diffusing and ensuring public peace. It is also their responsibility to create and enhance the environment to do business.
In the last four decades different organizations have developed competitiveness indices some of which have become crucial elements in the evaluation of governments. The WEF, IBRD and IMD all speak to the role of security in defining the environment for business and investment to thrive. States which do not have this under control have seen their ratings as "investment destination" deteriorate.