Whither Black Business?

Please answer Ram, Mr Brassington

I concede, I confess, I admit: it is, perhaps, the third time in eighteen years that I’ve employed today’s caption to explore, most briefly, a favourite provocative theme of mine.

This is a recognition of this year’s closure of Emancipation Month 2013 tomorrow.  And, as my regulars would discern, I wish to repeat my concerns, observations and hopes with respect to the relatively–sensitive issue of Afro-Guyanese and the ownership and management of significant business (enterprises) in Guyana.  Both in history;  currently and in the foreseeable future.

Interestingly, Economist and Afro-oriented specialist Carl Greenidge has been addressing this ethnic-specific problem(atic). Afro-centric speakers, throughout this month, have been seeking to inspire the largely–challenged and dispossessed Afro-Guyanese community into pride, endeavour and, hopefully, solid achievement.

Frankly Speaking, it is that perspective that I welcome every February and August, when the history, challenges, sabotage and occasional triumph regarding African Guyanese are under laboured scrutiny.  Recall that last Friday, I lamented that, besides those conferences, discussions and analyses, there was/is a sad, non-productive element of no ownership of Commerce and Industry by many Afro-Guyanese in this country.

Yes, the freed slaves were both entrepreneurial, agricultural and the creators of the local Village Movement and Cooperatives.  So, apart from the sabotage and hostility by the planters and governments of those days, what else went wrong?


Pro’s/cons – The Negatives


Mainly as a basis for discussion – then action – I repeat the “findings”, eighteen years ago, of the business monthly newspaper, “founded” by a group of University-type, Afro-Guyanese writers.

They claimed to have researched, painstakingly, their subject, before publishing the following.

Reasons, Dilemmas which beset “Black Business”:

* Afro-Guyanese did not enjoy any business-tradition, in that their forebears were never in formal business  -meaning the production of goods and services, merchandising, importation, exportation or the large-scale wholesale or retail trade.

* Quoting Biblical injunction about the camel and the rich man and Heaven’s gate, the researchers found that Afro-Guyanese “culture” with its Christian religious background never emphasized the Acquisition of Wealth as a principal goal of life.

*Lack of track-record by the few bold, ambitious Blacks, did not usually attract loans from the local financial institutions.

*Wrong choice of business enterprise also thwarted risks by banks. And Afro-applicants hardly possessed collateral for assistance.

* History, consumerism and lack of profit motive hampered management skills.

*The researchers also concluded that Afro-Guyanese also suffered from their (then) lack of the concept of  “Family Business” and  effort, so the complementary concept of handing-down the business to the next generation was/is notably absent.  Both divisiveness and the lack of constructive competition within the Black Community also hampered success.


Well, the elements of rabid and rampant governmental discrimination, even racism and executive corruption, withering taxation and electricity costs, along with land distribution were not mentioned in that research of seventeen/eighteen years ago. Discuss…


Mr Ram, Mr Brassington,

Amaila …


For obvious reasons (of my lack of expertise and competence in the field), I’ve allowed our knowledgeables to expound on the various intricacies of the Amaila Falls Hydro-electricity Project and its daily ancillary fallout.

However, since at the time of writing this, I’ve seen no response from Minister Ashni Singh, PM Hinds, AG Nandlall or Mr Brassington to those damaging claims published by Accountant/Attorney/Analyst Christopher Ram, it is with my maximum respect for Negotiator Brassington that I plead with him to refute the findings of Critic Christopher.


Not that Sithe Global “was allowed to design the project documents, so that repayment of its cash and in-kind investment would be effected through the monthly, all-in charge to be paid by GPL” and Sithe’s Holding redeemable preference shares and enjoying total control…


But charges such as the “Tax-free 19% return on its investment; the 19% being paid on the original sum deemed to be invested with some stunning interest rates;” Sithe’s insistence on being paid an equity-participation fee of 2% of the total project cost; government agreement to (also) pay for overseeing the project construction; a potential hefty mark-up for Sithe’s operations and maintenance project implementation company. And so on…


Allegedly, Amaila would have been “a dream deal” for Sithe.  I am confident that  Mr Brassington can refute all that! Waiting!



*1)  Our Capital’s City Council is, once more, poised to regulate vending in the city. Ho-hum…


*2(  Becoming a Guyanese again – Guyanese in Trinidad and Tobago. Next week.


*3)  Welcome President Maduro – and Venezuelan assistance with  PetroCaribe and massive infrastructure(?).

*4)  As I pleaded for last Friday, I’ve heard that a significant enterprise is scheduled for Victoria, ECD, from the New York “Diaspora”. Great!

*5)  A Beautiful Week from our younger sports persons – Shewdass, Golden Boy Power-lifter,

the girls in Lawn and Table Tennis internationally. Hope springs eternal.


Til next week.


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