Christmas 2013 one of the worst in 10 years

- Upper Corentyne Chamber President

– wants probe into scrapping  of old Skeldon Factory

President of the Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce Krishnanand Jaichand has told Stabroek Business that the Christmas season just past was “one of the worst” for business “that I have been over the past ten years.”

Asked to identify the reasons for what he described as a “slow” Christmas, Jaichand attributed the phenomenon to “money circulation”.

And against the backdrop of what he says is increasing local concern over the future of the ‘new’ GuySuCo Sugar

Upper Corentyne Chamber President Krishnanand Jaichand
Upper Corentyne Chamber President Krishnanand Jaichand

Factory at Skeldon, Jaichand said “someone needs to explain who authorized the dismantling of the old sugar factory.”

He said that one consequence of the dismantling of the old factory was that cane from Skeldon Estate was now being sent to Albion for grinding. “Skeldon Estate is important for the Upper Corentyne. If it fails, there will be vast unemployment throughout the area,” he said.

The senior Berbice Chamber official told Stabroek Business that reports emanating from the business community indicated that growth in the business sector was slow last year, compared with the previous year. “Some of the businesses that had developed in 2012 were not sustained due to the economic depression,” Jaichand added.

Asked to comment on trading between the Upper Corentyne business community and neighbouring Suriname, Jaichand said he continued to be pleased with the relationship. While in a previous interview with this newspaper he had expressed dissatisfaction with the regime that had been in place for the valuation of goods imported from Suriname, he suggested in the current interview that the system had improved. “I was told that revenue in the Upper Corentyne had tripled and that this was because new systems were put in place and because there were new valuation mechanisms for goods imported from Suriname,” he added.

One of the Upper Corentyne’s business houses
One of the Upper Corentyne’s business houses

Meanwhile, following reports on a spate of robberies in the Upper Corentyne targeting businessmen during the latter months of last year, the Chamber had met the Commander and other senior officers of ‘B’ Division to discuss the crime situation and to secure a policing perspective on an appropriate response. “Some of the issues affecting the business sector were highlighted and we brought to their attention the importance of security if the Upper Corentyne wanted to attract investors,” Jaichand said.

While he gave no details of the outcome of the engagement with ‘B’ Division’s top brass he described the meeting as “a successful one.”

Meanwhile, Jaichand told Stabroek Business that the Chamber was lending attention to the implementation of its 2014 strategic plan formulated with the support of “a volunteer from Canada” in collaboration with the Canadian Executive Service Organisation (CESO) and the Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED). “Our top priorities are the setting up of a permanent secretariat to house the Chamber so that we can improve communication amongst the members, deliver a more efficient service and make the community more aware of the Chamber’s undertakings,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Upper Corentyne Chamber has initiated a job agency designed to help unemployed residents of the community find jobs in the business sector.

And Jaichand told Stabroek Business that it was the business support organization’s wish that the government and the political opposition find ways of arriving at a compromise that would allow for the realization of anti-money laundering legislation since Guyana was already experiencing the effects of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force blacklisting.

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