There are a number of exciting possibilities for the expansion and growth of Guyana’s economy arising from conventional trade opportunities as well as non-traditional new technology-based services, Minister of Finance Dr Ashni Singh told a seminar at the Grand Coastal Inn Tuesday.
The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and International Co-operation, and the Competitiveness Unit held the sensitisation seminar for stakeholders from the GRA, the private sector, and media operatives to heighten awareness on the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), a press release from the Government Information Agency (GINA) said.
Dr Singh told stakeholders that it is government’s deliberate policy to “mobilise opportunities with geographically proximate countries,” and he highlighted successful economic activities between Guyana and Brazil, which were made possible following the completion of the Takutu Bridge, and this same trend is expected with Suriname following the completion of the bridge across the Corentyne River.
The government’s policy framework is not confined only to modernising the traditional sectors or promoting only the capacity for trade in goods but also the promotion of the new and emerging sectors whether it be ICT, ecotourism or financial services, Dr Singh emphasised.
He said further that “as it relates to ties with the Caribbean, we recognise exciting opportunities such as food supply and we believe that we are on the verge of realising the long-embraced aspiration of becoming the food basket of the Caribbean.”
The EPA Implementation Unit based in the Caricom Secretariat was set up to facilitate the execution of the Caribbean Forum of African, Caribbean and Pacific (Cariforum)-European Union (EU) EPA which was signed by 14 Cariforum states, including Guyana, in 2008.
The unit is mandated to assist Cariforum states in the implementation of the provisions of the agreement. In this regard, the unit is tasked with direct ‘hands-on’ technical guidance and assistance in meeting the commitments outlined in the agreement, the release explained.
Over the years, the release noted, several initiatives were implemented to improve the effectiveness with which the GRA and other government agencies discharge their obligations as it relates to trade facilitation.
And the finance minister urged the revenue body to constantly look for ways to improve its operational efficiency.
He emphasised also that it is important that the private sector be aware of these opportunities and be responsive, and so any effort to ensure that the private sector is as well informed as it possibly can be is to be commended.
“It is equally important that our institutions in government are equipped to provide the services that are required to be provided to facilitate this growth and in this regard the GRA has an extremely important role to play,” Dr Singh pointed out.
The minister posited that a lot of work has been done to identify the challenges and in this regard Guyana has been advocating a policy framework to be defined by small states to suit their peculiar circumstances that will enable them to overcome the challenges that are associated with the smallness of their economies.
“We in Guyana have the good fortune that notwithstanding our relative smallness we have a number of circumstances that do enable us to be able, potentially, to overcome the challenges of smallness and we also have a policy framework we have put in place as a government that is conducive to growth and development beyond the constraints of our smallness,” Dr Singh said.
Meanwhile, looking at the National Competitiveness Strategy, he explained that it is an agenda for improving competitiveness essentially in all sectors of the economy in preparation for the new opportunities that are emerging and it enables the response to new opportunities and also establishes a forum for engagement between stakeholders on matters that are related to competitiveness, the release added.