Private sector meeting voices lack of confidence in gov’t management of economy

-wants SARA bill recalled, meters contract revoked

In its strongest criticism yet of the APNU+AFC administration, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) says that affiliates who attended a meeting on Monday expressed a lack of confidence in the government’s managing of the economy.

In a statement yesterday, the PSC said that affiliates also sought the recall of the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) bill and the revoking of the contract for parking meters – two issues that have placed the government at the centre of much opprobrium.

The PSC said that it and its affiliates hosted a meeting with a wide cross-section of members on Monday to discuss issues which are having a serious impact on the survival and growth of businesses in a declining economy.

While the consensus of businesses is that there is a need for unlawfully appropriated assets of the State to be recovered, it was felt by the meeting that the SARA Bill provides too much unchecked power to the Agency.

“The Director of SARA supersedes the Courts, the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner General of GRA. The Bill will impede business progress as it allows for harassment and political victimization of legitimate businesses. The Bill allows staff of the Agency to arbitrarily look at private accounts and financial information of citizens without due process. This Bill should be recalled and amended to be consistent with the constitutional rights of citizens”, the PSC statement declared.

Members are also demanding that a Commission of Inquiry be set up to probe the Parking Meters controversy.

“It must be determined whether there are statutes in place to allow the MCC to unilaterally enter into an agreement with Smart City Solutions (SCS). In addition there should be clarity as to the feasibility studies done, the nature of accountability for the revenues, the role of Government in each stage of the project, the tendering and approval process, and the extent of a legal review of the contract. Given the obscurity of the process, the consensus was that the contract be rescinded in its entirety”, the statement added.

Allegations of political involvement in the judicial system were noted with great concern at the meeting.

“There must be a separation of the Government and the Judicial System and Government must ensure full autonomy and adequate financial resources for a properly functioning system. There is need for judges to be appointed at all levels especially at the Court of Appeal and the High Court. In addition, the presence of one Commercial Judge to handle the thousands of cases annually is inadequate. This needs to be addressed”, the statement said. There was recent public consternation at attacks by Attorney General Basil Williams on  members of the judiciary.

Participants at the meeting also noted what they said was the decline of the economy.

“Among the concerns are the crippling new taxes for the mining sector and the institution of Value Added Tax on necessities. The members of the business community present expressed a lack of confidence in the manner the Government is managing the economy. This is reflected in the flight of capital from Guyana and the lack of significant new investments in the last 2 years. Real estate values are dwindling, property for sale inventory is on the rise and wealth is eroding rapidly. We would like to see Government create the enabling environment and engage the business community much more so that together we can facilitate the creation of employment opportunities, have wage growth and put in measures to increase wealth of all Guyanese”, the PSC declared.

It added that Guyana cannot continue to improve and sustain growth, if investors’ confidence continues to be eroded.

“The trajectory in which the country is heading at the moment does not inspire such confidence”, the statement said.

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