Gov’t lauded on forests initiative, thumbs down on wiretapping law

The government won high marks for its forest initiative and the hosting of Carifesta but got the thumbs down over wiretapping legislation and its handling of torture claims, a recent survey conducted by the accounting firm Ram and McRae shows.

In the results of the survey titled “Guyana Business Outlook Survey 2009”, the sample (which was made up of fifty persons) was asked their view on the government’s decisions in respect to nine policy issues. These issues were: the macro-economic policies, the offer of forests in the fight against Global Warming, the opening of the markets for flour, the hosting of Carifesta X, the wiretapping legislation, the legislation to expand the law on concessions, the handling of appointments to the Judiciary, the Economic Partnership Agreement and the Government’s position on torture.

According to the survey, local businesses were in overwhelming support of the government‘s decision to open markets for flour and to offer the forest in the fight for global warming. Meanwhile there was strong support for the government’s decision to host Carifesta, with more than 50% being in support of the decision to host the event.

Although the survey did not state the reason for the strong support of the hosting of the event, it suggests that local businesses reaped some profits from the festival. Christopher Ram, of Ram and Mc Rae, said that businesses on the whole may have benefitted from the hosting of the event especially those involved in the tourism industry. However, not enough data was gathered to determine whether the actual investment by the government was matched by substantial gains by the business sector.

While no official figure has been released regarding the expenditure for the festival, it has been reported that the government has spent in excess of the $505M initially budgeted for its staging.

Meanwhile over 60% of the respondents disapproved of the government’s handling of appointments to the judiciary and its position on torture.  More than 50% stated that they were against the government’s wiretapping legislation.

There was limited support for the government’s positions on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union, its Macro Economic Policies and its legislation to expand the law on concessions.

In each of the three cases less than 40% of the respondents said that they agreed with government’s policy on the matter, while more than 30% of the respondents stated that they disapproved in each scenario. The other respondents were presumably undecided.

Meantime, according to the survey businesses have identified new products and/or services development as the most likely option that they will pursue during the year to ensure growth this year.

A substantial number of the respondents also said that they will be upgrading technology during the year. Improving existing products, expanding their market share and investing in a new capacity and expanding investments in the local market were seen as other popular growth strategies that local businesses plan to implement during the year.

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