COMPETITION has broken out between leading commercial banks in the bid to attract business under the new Cambio Act.
Up to late yesterday purchasing and selling rates had risen at Cambios operated by the National Bank of Industry and Commerce (NBIC) and the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI).
The upswing, said analysts, was triggered because demand for foreign currency outweighed supply and also as a result of competition between the banks. Some financial sources suggested the market would be turbulent for an initial period but would eventually become stable.
The closing rates at NBIC were:
USS 56.00 55.00
CDNS 48.00 47.00
£STG 89.00 87.50
NBIC also has concessional buying rates for these currencies if customers were selling in sums of over $500.
Closing rates at GBTI which began operations yesterday were:
US$, 55.50 55.00
CDN$ 46.75 46.25
£STG – 88.50 87.50
NBIC had started in the morning selling USS at 55.50 but this changed to 56.00 during the day.
Earlier in the day NBIC Managing Director Raymond Ackloo had described his first day of business, Thursday, as “very good.” Over 160 transactions were executed during the day.
Currency is being sold to customers who can prove that it is required for the purchases of goods and services as specified in the regulations relating to the Cambio Act.
The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) has come out strongly against the G$100,000 licensing fee required. The WPA in a release says the fee “is an act of dispossession” directed against these small dealers who blazed the trail at great risk in what has now become a legal business.
The WPA asserts that if the business is now legal it should not be taken away from those with unacceptable premises. The decision by whom business is conducted should be left to the customer. The WPA further says that the current regulations are not reconcilable with government’s ‘market forces’ strategy.
Guysprint Flights Banned Pending Bond Dispute
LOCAL tour operators Guysprint were last week banned from operating any flights into or out of Guyana over a dispute on the US$300,000 bond to be posted as surety. However, it was reportedly being allowed three flights to get more than 300 stranded passengers out of the country.
Guysprint’s Manager Douglas Maloney said when Guysprint began operations on August 2 last year a letter of credit (LC) drawn on the Royal Bank of Canada to the value of US$300,000 was placed with the Guyana Consul in Toronto and accepted. However, Director of the Civil Aviation Department (CAD) Anthony Mekdeci, told Guysprint he wanted the bond to be placed in Guyana.
The LC was brought to Guyana but rejected by Mekdeci who said the bond has to be placed in cash. Maloney said this is contrary to international procedure.
The matter was referred to the Attorney General’s Chambers for advice. Guysprint received letters last week dated February 1 that the LC was unacceptable and flights were banned. No compromise has since been possible with Minister of Communications and Works, Jules Kranenburg on this issue.
Maloney said that after Crown Air went out of business in February Guysprint chartered another service, Nation Air, which he describes as the third largest carrier in Toronto. He disclosed that GAC is also utilizing the services of Nation Air and actually absorbed Guysprint passengers after the tour operators were disallowed from organising flights.
Maloney says that Nation Air is willing to lodge the US$300,000 bond as an LC but Mr. Kranenburg is insisting that cash be posted. It was not possible to contact Minister Kranenburg up to Press time for a comment.
According to Maloney Guysprint was formed after a visit by President Desmond Hoyte to Toronto in 1987 when he urged Guyanese to become involved in developing their country. He says Guysprint is 99 per cent Guyanese-owned and it cost over CDN$250,000 to get “a programme like this going.” He says they performed well and had never missed a flight until Crown Airways collapsed.
Condominiums On Drawing Board To Help Crucial Housing Problem
GOVERNMENT is toying with the idea of building condominium style housing apartments in Georgetown for “young professionals”, housing sources say.
Although the idea itself is yet to get off the ground, some agencies including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) were asked if they could possibly fund such a venture.
“The UNDP seems to be interested,” one source said but UNDP Country Representative here Mr. Juan Luis Larrabure, could not be contacted for a comment as he is out the country.
The source said ‘that Prime Minister Hamilton Green who has overall responsibility for housing policy is supporting the idea as ‘over three dozen young professionals met and impressed on him the need for houses.”
These ‘professionals’ included doctors, attorneys-at-law, journalists and engineers. The Prime Minister called in the bunch after “numerous letters detailing the housing woes” piled up at his office.
Mr. Green also had the enlightening experience of encountering two young men in the government employ living in a bedroom in Albouystown. They paid a monthly rent of $500.
“When a man has to pay half his salary in rent, he doesn’t have much else to live on. That is undesirable” the Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson said. “There are thousands of applications for housing at the Housing Ministry.”
There are reports that husbands are separated from their wives because of the severe housing shortage in the city, the source said. And the shortage is growing in Georgetown where the population of an estimated 200,000 persons keeps growing with people constantly arriving for jobs from the rural areas of the country, according to the Guyana Agency for Health Sciences, Education, Environment and Food Policy (GAHEF).
Some of the persons who met the Prime Minister lived in North America where these types of apartments are common and the general response to the housing apartments idea “was very good.”
The idea seems to be slowly materialising but Permanent Secretary of the Housing Ministry Mr. Compton Dick said the public should not be “over optimistic yet.” UNDP and government officials recently toured possible areas where the apartments, in three and four storey buildings, could be built.
“We are hopeful construction will start by this year end,” the source said.
The houses will, if constructed, be from local materials and follow the pattern of Malaysia where a -unique housing scheme exists. The aim is for costs to be no more than $350,000 per apartment.
Discussions started with the UNDP since last year but certain snags in other government departments have held up the project getting on stream. “When it starts, private companies will get concessions to build the condominiums.”
“The idea visualises that the apartments’ grounds will have play grounds and parking areas. There will be water supply and telephones. These will be high-class condominiums.”