Leadership, Competitiveness and Security for Development

The OAS Seventh Private Sector Forum began today a day and a half of debates in San Salvador on the issue of “Competitiveness and Security for Development” with the goal of presenting recommendations to the Foreign Ministers of the Hemisphere, who will meet starting Sunday at the 41st General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the Salvadorean capital.

The opening ceremony featured presentations by Acting OAS Assistant Secretary General, Alfonso Quiñónez; the Minister of Economy of El Salvador, Héctor Dada Hirezi; and the Vice-President of the Private Sector of the Americas, Enrique de Obarrio.

Ambassador Quiñónez highlighted the Forum’s topic, related to that of the General Assembly “Citizen Security in the Americas,” because “insecurity is one of the major challenges for democracy, peace, development and competitiveness for our countries.”

Tackling that challenge, he added, requires the efforts of not only Governments but all social stakeholders, including the private sector. “You,” he said addressing entrepreneurs, “have the ability not only to generate business and subsequently jobs, but also to help solving the biggest problems in our societies. And I hereby call upon the private sector to assume an important role in the development of national strategies of citizen security.”

“We are all responsible for achieving and procuring development, peace and security in our Hemisphere. This new challenge for our nations requires all stakeholders to play their assigned role. The OAS General Assembly in El Salvador presents a unique opportunity for Governments, along with inputs from you and other social groups, to strengthen inter-American cooperation on issues of security and development and to consolidate our political will and collective commitment with peace, democracy and prosperity in the Americas,” he said.

Minister Dada also called upon the private sector to get involved in the fight against crime, particularly in his country, and also requested international cooperation on the issue. “The Government of President Mauricio Funes has established fighting insecurity as a priority, but the Government alone cannot achieve it, it is everybody’s responsibility. And as a country, we cannot achieve it either, it is a regional problem,” he said.

“The Government of El Salvador thinks that only an alliance of all stakeholders can find solutions to this problem,” the Minister added. He also stressed that the investing role of the private sector is key on this issue, “because a better competitiveness produces better conditions to fight insecurity.”

The OAS Private Sector Forum is an event that brings together hundreds of business leaders in the entire hemisphere. It is organized annually by the OAS General Secretariat and the host country of the General Assembly. The Forum was launched in June 2005, and its objective is to formulate recommendations and propositions on related incentives under the central theme of the Assembly, formally presented to the foreign ministers by representatives of the private sector at the formal dialogue to be held on Sunday.

The OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, will participate tomorrow at the opening and closing events of the event’s last day, at 8:30 (14:30 GMT) and 18:00 (0:00 GMT).

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