Private sector key to change in society

Kathmandu, December 12:

For successful business there needs to be a successful society and vice-versa. However, private sector also has to play a role of agent in bringing change even in the conflict-hit society, experts opined.

“The bigger the challenge, the greater the opportunity,” said Dr Anura Ekanayake,

senior vice-chairperson, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, addressing the conclusion programme of regional exchange programme with Business for Peace Alliance (BPA) and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka here today.

“The conflict has also taught Sri Lankan private sector to play a role of change agent in

times of political instability and frequent strikes,” Ekanayake added.

“Everyone should do what they can, from where they are, and from what they have for peace, and the private sector is also determined to take its responsibility,” Padma Jyoti, president of NBI and one of the organisers of the exchange programme said, adding that there is no successful business in an unsuccessful society and there can be no successful society without a successful business.

Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI), National Business Initiatives (NBI) Nepal, Federation of Women Entrepreneurs Nepal (FWEAN), Nepal Chamber of Commerce (NCC), and Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI), in support with GTZ / INCLUDE and International Alert organised a regional exchange programme with Business for Peace Alliance (BPA) and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka recognising and acknowledging the potentials, roles and strengths of private sector in inclusive economic development for peacebuilding.

The exchange programme aimed to facilitate regional experience sharing and stimulate discussions on private sector’s potentials and roles in inclusive economic development for sustainable peacebuilding. It has also attempted to establish networks and build solidarity at a regional level between Sri Lanka and Nepal.

A series of informal interactions and workshops took place in Biratnagar and Kathmandu between December 6 and 12. During these workshops and interactions, various impacts of conflict on business was discussed, such as extortions, abductions and threats as well as decline in investment opportunities and strained industrial relations.

From Sri Lanka the Galle Chamber of Commerce and the Jaffna Chamber of Commerce shared their respective coping strategies in dealing with conflicts through their locally

initiated peace-building mechanisms.

During the exchange, the participants emphasised that building good relations and trust with the employees and the society at large through conflict sensitive socially responsible business practices is a long-term but none-the-less an effective approach to addressing labour disputes as well as conflicts within the local community in which the business is operating.

They also emphasised that the private sector - as a politically more neutral force - can take a lead to facilitate multi-stakeholder partnerships with government, civil society, academia and media for advocating on economic dimension of peacebuilding.