It is with humility that I accept.
Those are the words of businessman Salim Rahaman who is the nominee of the Grenada Chamber of Industry & Commerce (GCIC), Grenada Hotel & Tourism Association (GHTA) and Grenada Employers Federation (GEF) to occupy the seat in Parliament reserved for the Private Sector in the Senate.
THE NEW TODAY was able to reach Rahaman, the Manager of Spice Isle Retreaders who is currently on a short private visit to Canada, to ask him about the decision taken by the leading private sector organisations in the country to put forward his name for the position.
“The three private sector organisations have communicated with me and they have placed their confidence in me to be able to serve and I am humbled by that,” he said.
“I am not one to put forward myself and to say pick me. No, because I am not a politician – I have never run for office,” he added.
Rahaman who is a devout Muslim and worships often at the Mosque at Calliste in the south of the island saw his elevation into the Senate, which is a major decision-making body in the country in religious terms.
He said: Part of service to man is service to God Almighty. When people put confidence in you, those who themselves have served and have served well, you have to come forward and you have to serve.
“We want to leave our country better off than we met it, at least to try to do so and if you have an ability and people recognise that in you, then to not serve is not to step forward and not to take an opportunity that the Creator is putting forth for you,” he added.
The businessman went on to say: “And when you have people that you have served along with and they put confidence in you and they say we have your back, it’s a beautiful thing.”
Rahaman was specifically asked about the issues that he intends to champion in the Senate as part of his contributions on behalf of the private sector.
“These are trying times businesswise and if I am to represent the Business sector in the Senate I have to bring forward to the government the issues that are on the table with regards to what the Business Community is facing, and what the Business Community needs. Some of it has been mentioned already and we will continue to mention it and continue to tweak – to find the right position,” he said.
He identified the rising cost of freight as a current issue that is high on the agenda for the private sector as it is something that compounds prices which have been going up constantly in recent times.
He said the critical matter to be looked at is “how do we deal with it – at what level do you cap, rather at what percentage you cap? All these things have to be worked out. Even if there is understanding and agreement, yes something needs to be done, it will take a little time to work it out.”
“If the government is going to do something (about capping freight price), it has to be beneficial for the Business Community in order to make an impact and make a difference so that prices can stabilise at least in the short-term and then it has to be a fall-out for government because you are talking about revenue. So, these are some of the things,” he told THE NEW TODAY.
The 1st Vice-President of GCIC was asked to comment on reports in local quarters that his father is a well-known supporter of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government of new Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell and that might influence some of his decisions in the Senate.
He said: “We live in a democracy and people have a right to say what they think even if it’s incorrect. I am not a politician – I make that clear and the politicians know that. Of course if my father and he’s a Grenadian, he has a right to support whoever he feels.”
“I remember when my father was an NNP. I remember seeing John Watts (a NNP Executive member) and so on coming to his office. So if it’s on the other side – what is the challenge? Does that mean people are going to be judged based on their qualifications or people are going to be judged on their constitutional right to support a party or to vote?”
“Judge people by their actions, judge people by what they do. Of course these are rights that people have and my father, who is in his 70’s, has done what he has to do for Grenada and for the private sector – he has been President of the Chamber and he was on many different boards.”