Justice Bankole Thompson, Special Court Judge who was the guest speaker at the Sierra Leone Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture’s (SLCCIA) business luncheon yesterday said, “where there is poverty, [and] where state institutions are weak it is meaningless to say that the rule of law [and] democratic governance would make a difference.”
He explained that, “there are several issues that are worth consideration when looking at the effectiveness of the rule of law”, noting in particular that the attitude of people was premium among these issues.
The judge pointed out that Sierra Leone had the democratic structures, but however regretted that these structures were weak and law enforcement seemed nil.
He argued that, “though it is true to say that some of our laws are archaic; replacing it with modern laws is not a prerequisite for their enforcement”.
He noted that, “there are serious problems somewhere along the line with the system”, adding that, “at the end of the day enforcement is important.”
“I further contend that democratic governance propels society forward towards economic development, and provides an attractive and conducive climate for investment, thereby helping society to identify and implement policies that promote equitable growth,” he said
The judge however submitted that after examining the vision, mission statement and the list of services and functions that formed the core elements of SLCCIA activities, “it is refreshing to note that [the] institutional vision is “to be the essential focus for the whole business community by promoting commercial, industrial and agricultural growth through the private sector.” He maintained that, “it is also instructive to observe that, in response to the phenomenon of globalization; you are institutionally committed to providing a network of national and international business contacts and opportunities including international trade services”.
In his opening statement prior to the address SLCCIA’s president, Henry Aki Macaulay, said, “over the years we have strove to be the advocacy body for the private sector which we all know is the key engine for growth in any economy.”
He maintained that, “we have also strove to be relevant by engaging in constructive dialogue with all parties in the economy.”
Mr Macaulay lamented: “regrettably our input has not always been taken onboard,” adding that, “our chamber has a list of priority issues affecting the private sector and development in general.”
This list, he said, was identical to that which government was addressing. “Top on that list is energy generation which is so vital to the private sector… Chamber has however decided to put rule of law in a democratic setting number one on it list,” he said.