Higher service sector standards

One of the weaknesses that Guyana will have to overcome if it is to stake a persuasive claim as a tourism destination is the absence of the high service standards which, these days, are increasingly demanded by international travellers. Here, the problem that we face is the very fact of a globalized international community and that travellers demand more or less the same high standards wherever they may go.

To contend that our service standards are in need of significant elevation is to make the same point which some of the service providers themselves make from time to time about the need to find trained and competent staff to function in the various key areas of the service sector.

With restaurants and snackettes now proliferating the city the continually declining standards are beginning to stick out like sore thumbs.

What is also apparent is that the owners of some of those establishments have no intention of investing in training, their preoccupation being with employing young adults, who are, in most cases, underqualified for other forms of employment and who are prepared—since they have little choice—to work long hours for small wages and in some cases to endure other forms of exploitation.

Failure to identify and punish exploitative employers in the service sector, many of them owners of snackettes, has long been one of the weaknesses of the Ministry of Labour which, of course, is why more and more exploitative employers are inclined to invest in the sector. Here, the point should be made that official indifference to problems associated with the dangers of spoilt food, vermin infestation and unclean utensils, among other weaknesses has led to the conclusion that the sector is a soft target for businessmen and women who seek no more than a quick dollar.

One of the things which the announcement of the creation of a Hospitality Institute has done is to raise hopes that more and presumably better training facilities may (not will but may) mean higher standards.

In this regard it is more than a little comforting to know that the Carnegie School of Home Economics (CSHE) is one of the stakeholders in the intended institute. To its credit and over its more than eight decades of existence the CSHE has managed to maintain a sound reputation as a trainer in the various service-related disciplines. Essentially, what the authorities are hoping is that the service standards that have kept the Carnegie flag flying will impact on the new institution so that we can benefit from the higher standards for which the service sector is crying out.

That, however, will only happen if the professionals are given room to make the new institution what is ought to be. The last thing we need is the imposition of some fly-by-night training culture designed to put money into the pockets of incompetents who couldn’t care less about the damage which their incompetence does to a service sector that is already a victim of shoddy standards.

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A perspective on the small business sector

While the Stabroek Business has been unable to secure a reliable estimate of the extent of the increase in urban trading over the past five years we have noticed the pronounced upsurge in small business investments in sectors such as grooming and beauty treatment (barbering, hairdressing, cosmetology), fashion, food vending and IT goods and services.

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City Hall and the parking meters

The very last thing that City Hall needs now that it is probably better-positioned than it was a few months ago to put behind it a past strewn with accusations of fraud, mismanagement and corruption is more of the same, though it seems on the basis of the available evidence that it may not be particularly mindful of the consequences of passing the same way twice.

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Public/private sector dialogue and the economy

Several months after we raised the issue of the seemingly long-postponed public/private sector ‘summit’ there has been no definitive word from either side as to whether or when the two will meet though the former chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Major General (ret’d) Norman McLean did say in a letter to this newspaper that the meeting will take place.

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GuyExpo, Jubilee and the visitor experience

This year, small business representatives at the Jubilee GuyExpo event had much to say about how it impacted on customer patronage when compared with their customary day-to-day trading in arcades, on pavements, in malls and the like.

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Hastening public service salary negotiations

Once the programme of official events for the Jubilee Independence celebrations is over one expects that there will be some movement on the commencement of discussions between the government and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) on wages and salaries and related issues.

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Jubilee opportunities

Understandably, we have no clear idea of the numbers that will arrive here over the next week to be part of the country’s 50th Independence Anniversary celebrations, though from all that we have been hearing Guyanese from the diaspora, some of whom may well not have set foot on their native soil in decades, will be ‘touching down’ here to participate in the historic celebrations.

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The Fire Service and the Gafoors conflagration

A fair number of people – including some employees of the company with whom this newspaper spoke – have commented favourably on the grit and determination with which the Guyana Fire Service battled Monday’s conflagration at the Gafoors Houston Complex.

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Finding a solution

It is the easiest thing in the world to take sides in the prevailing brouhaha between the Georgetown City Council and the vendors who ply their trade in the area of the Stabroek Market following what turned out to be the forcible removal of the vendors from areas where – in some cases – they had been trading for several years.

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