Naalakkersuisut's visions for the future
By Kim Kielsen, Chairman of Naalakkersuisut
Greenland. I have a vision of an enterprising country in which a thriving business community and entrepreneurship create growth and development. I also have a vision of a people with a high educational level, a people with safe and secure children, and a people in a welfare society in which the sick and the weak receive the help they need. A people where the elderly can have a good life after a long working life has ended.
In order to achieve this vision, which we all support, Naalakkersuisut's objective is to create the right framework for development. We must remove the large and small stones on our path. This is because it is important that the business community is able to do what it does best, which is to develop new enterprises and run businesses that can help to ensure society's growth and development.
The business community are our experts when it comes to doing well in business. Yet running a business in an open economy and in the face of international competition is very demanding. We must constantly be at the forefront, if we are not to lag behind the competition. In this perspective, I find it exciting and interesting that Greenland Business is holding the fourth consecutive Future Greenland conference. Many bright people gathered in one place will, hopefully, give our business community inspiration and new ideas for the business and commerce of the future. All of you attending Future Greenland have the opportunity to listen, learn and exchange knowledge, and I hope that you will all reap great benefit from the conference.
In the same way, I hope that the conference can be useful for us at Naalakkersuisut since, in view of the government-owned limited liability companies, the Government of Greenland has a major role to play in our business sector.
Being a public company owner is always a difficult balancing act between corporate financial considerations, macroeconomic considerations and political considerations, and often the various interests will pull in different directions. Whenever concrete problems arise in the individual companies, there will always be those who believe that we interfere too much, and others who think that we get involved too little.
In my view, it is important to maintain the "arm's length principle" – in Naalakkersuisut we must stay away from the day-to-day business of the government-owned enterprises and keep to the role we have been given: We are shareholders, and we consider results and strategies at AGMs; while in the company's management we must be represented by the Board members we help to elect at AGMs.
But how can we ensure that the enterprises have the best conditions for their development? I am convinced that a key aspect of this is good cooperation within the companies and sound cooperation with the rest of the business community. This cooperation should be based on transparency and trust.
A large element of Greenland's business and commerce is in full or partial public ownership. Naalakkersuisut is convinced that the path to take for Greenland is for the public sector's involvement in the business community to be reduced, but naturally without diminishing the services provided to the population. Nonetheless, there are still many tasks that are handled and will continue to be handled by the public sector. We therefore wish to have a dialogue with both the private business community and the government-owned limited liability companies, to ensure the right conditions for growth in Greenland.
Fisheries is still the country's most important industry. This is where an important part of value creation takes place. We must therefore provide further opportunities to develop this industry. We live on the world's largest island and thus have enormous ocean resources that, due to climate change, are giving us new opportunities to fish for different fish species. It therefore makes sense that we can make better use of the ocean resources by exploiting new fishing areas, while also increasing the number of fish species we exploit today. An example is the current trial fishing for mackerel. By making better use of fisheries resources, we can create new growth and employment in the fisheries sector, so that both the business community and society can benefit from the new opportunities and resources that emerge.
Tourism is another important area. In order to increase tourism, we have to make Greenland more accessible. Naalakkersuisut has therefore resolved to strengthen Greenland's infrastructure by planning the construction of new airstrips and extending existing ones. The construction of new port facilities in Nuuk and the expansion of the port in Kangerlussuaq are also important factors. Besides a better infrastructure for freight supplies to the entire country, better port facilities will make it possible to expand cruise tourism. Together with the removal of the cruise passenger tax, this will pave the way for further growth in tourism.
Natural resources is one of the industrial cornerstones we must continue to make efforts to develop. It is important to stay focused on development, since despite the industry's roller coaster ride, experience shows that maintaining our objectives will yield results in the long term. The Oil and Minerals Strategy is a good example. Even though the Nalunaq mine and the Seqi olivine mine are no longer active there is now a ruby mine on the way and several interesting subjects are on the drawing board. Naalakkersuisut would like to see more of our people working with mineral resources exploration. This is not a task for the Government, but for the private players, while the Government must ensure the best possible framework.
To stimulate development and increase employment, education and training are the way ahead. There is no getting around this, and therefore at Naalakkersuisut we will continue to emphasise education. When more of our people have gained an education, and more of them have achieved higher education, growth and development will be created, and the competence to take on new tasks will increase.
First of all, more of our young people must gain an education. We must work to ensure that Greenlandic speakers have better educational opportunities. Far too many young people fall behind because they do not have the language skills to progress in the educational system. This is not optimal. Naalakkersuisut is therefore working to create educational opportunities for our citizens who only speak Greenlandic.
Yet it is also important that we as a people work to gain the knowledge that is necessary to be able to achieve educational qualifications. We therefore face the task of preparing our young people for education. The business community must also share the responsibility for ensuring that more of our people achieve educational qualifications. Our young people need apprenticeships and practical training opportunities. When the business community takes on young people as part of their education, this will help to develop the society that will be inherited by future generations.
Our society faces major unemployment problems that we must all help to solve. Naalakkersuisut has launched initiatives to tackle unemployment and create new jobs. In this respect too, we need to cooperate with the business community and we need businesses themselves to make an effort to give the unemployed new job opportunities and worthwhile lives with good prospects for development. This concerns every one of us, and we need to think of new ways of giving more of our people a footing in the labour market. We must be better at giving a helping hand, and doing that little bit extra. As politicians, business owners, or as ordinary citizens. I am pleased to see the positive development in voluntary work, including in the area of children and young people. I am pleased with the many initiatives to think and act beyond everyday business that have been created under Greenland Business' auspices. There is a need for both initiative and cooperation between us who are present here today, if we are to change the status quo and achieve greater economic independence.
Together we must create growth and development in our society, whether we are politicians, businesspeople, fishermen or work in other sectors. When we all do our bit, this will create the synergy our country needs to be able to fulfil all of our dreams for the next generations.
Thank you for your attention!