Urling calls for transparent, accountable national leadership

Guests at the GCCI Awards Ceremony

Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Clinton Urling wants the country’s “national leaders and public officials” to be more transparent and accountable in the management of public and private sector organisations.

Addressing the Chamber’s Annual Awards Ceremony at the Pegasus Hotel on December 6, Urling declared that these virtues should be among “the highest priorities for our national leaders and public officials.” Transparency and accountability, Urling said, build trust with the public. “That trust is achieved by providing accurate and complete information on expenditure, projects and other transactions.”

Urling used his address to the Chamber forum to issue another call to government to take the initiative on the creation of a development bank to meet the needs of the country’s growing small business community. He told the gathering of business leaders, politicians and diplomats that a point had been reached where the need for a development bank “that speaks to the needs of micro and small businesses” had become important.

GCCI President
Clinton Urling

Noting that some “new and innovative economic ventures were “considered risky by the traditional commercial banks,” Urling said that what was needed was “a development bank preferably structured in the public/private partnership model.” He envisages that such a bank would “offer longer-term lending, lower interest rates and less onerous collateral requirements.”

Several weeks ago Stabroek Business learnt from Presidential Advisor Keith Burrowes that government was in the process of preparing a White Paper that would address the creation of a development bank.

Urling also told the gathering that the private sector was seeking “accelerated and holistic tax reform” that placed emphasis on comprehensive change rather than on a “disjointed and fractional” approach.

And not for the first time since being elected President of the GCCI Urling called for changes at the University of Guyana that would allow the institution to contribute more meaningfully to the creation of an adequate corps of skilled workers to cater to the human resource deficiencies of the private sector. What was needed, he said, was a “… transformation of the University of Guyana” in order to change the institution into “a hub for national research and development” and enable it “to produce a competent and qualified labour force to meet the needs of the public and private sectors.

Urling’s call for an improved learning environment at the country’s only university comes against the backdrop of several earlier attempts to establish lasting relationships between UG and more private sector organisations. At the moment, there are just a few that are lasting and successful.

Guests at the GCCI Awards Ceremony

More than two years ago, in the wake of sustained complaints by leading private sector officials about the failure of UG to bridge the human resource gap created by the flight of skills, the Private Sector Commission (PSC) entered into an agreement with the university, which included, among other things, the planned creation of specialised courses tailored to meet the needs of private sector entities and the use of experienced private sector functionaries as guest lecturers at UG. At the same time it was agreed that the private sector would provide financing and equipment for selected projects at UG. The UG/PSC initiative which had envisaged the creation of academic programmes designed to focus greater attention on agriculture and business appeared to flourish at the start of the tenure of Professor Lawrence Carrington as Vice Chancellor of UG in 2009.

A UG spokesperson told Stabroek Business earlier this week that while the plan to create stronger linkages between the private sector and UG may have been well-intentioned, it was almost certainly derailed by the fact that the then Vice Chancellor (Professor Carrington) became preoccupied with “the wider crisis” confronting the university.

Urling’s call for the university to become “a hub for national research and development” coincides with calls from other private sector leaders for UG to focus more attention on research in the fields of agriculture and education.

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