Coming to grips with fake consumer goods

It is no secret that Guyana continues to have to deal with the considerable health and economic risks associated with the challenge of counterfeit consumer goods’ imports and our glaringly limited capacity to address the problem.

If we are somewhat uplifted by the seeming energy and optimism of Director of the Food and Drugs Department, Mr Marlon Cole, we cannot help but match his disposition with evidence that the problem is huge and beyond him. Mr Cole, through no fault of his own, really has no clear idea as to the volume of counterfeit goods that enter Guyana. By extension, he has no idea as to the volume of the trade.

The reasons for this reposes, first, in our open borders which allow all sorts of goods to enter the country unaccounted for. The other problem, by Mr Cole’s own admission, is that capacity limitations mean that the Food and Drugs Department only gets to examine a limited quantity of the imports.

What makes the counterfeit consumer goods trade even more worrisome is the fact that apart from its exponential global growth and the health risks that it poses for Guyana, there is also the fact that it creates potentially lucrative, albeit illegal hustles, for big and small vendors. Here in Guyana there is a widespread suspicion that the marketing of counterfeit products has become an ingrained business pursuit and Mr Cole himself alluded to what he sees as a battle between importers of genuine brands and those who would undersell them by bringing in the cheaper counterfeits.

The fact is that small, under-resourced and to a large extent vulnerable as it is, the Food and Drugs Department will always struggle to rein in an industry that is huge, driven by considerable resources and susceptible to bribes and kickbacks.

Mr Cole has made two important points about his Department’s vision for going forward. The first has to do with what he said is the “total support” of the state apparatus for his department’s plans to tackle the problem. The second is the continued growth of what would appear to be an influential stakeholder consensus on the way forward.

Even that, however, is not enough. There is, for example, evident scope for re-siting and resourcing the Department, pursuits which are necessary but which, for some inexplicable reason, have long been neglected. We believe too that there is scope for much closer cooperation between Food and Drugs and Customs that would give the former much greater inspection-related access to much more of the consumer items being imported. Those are areas that perhaps can be addressed in the short to medium term.

As for our porous borders, that problem remains beyond the scope of the Food and Drugs Department and, at least in the foreseeable future, beyond the government as well. All the more reason why those systems and mechanisms that lie within our control should be developed to their optimum. The risks associated with the uninhibited movement of counterfeit goods – particularly drugs – into the country are much too great and for all the efforts of Mr Cole and his staff and the support of the government. One day our luck could run out.


Oil and Gas: Local Content and the Public Interest

Like so many other institutions and individuals in Guyana the Stabroek Business has been  observing local developments at both the public and private sector levels as well as the contemplations of public commentators in the matter of what now appears to be the imminent commencement of the exploitation of oil and gas in Guyana’s territorial waters beginning in 2020.

Public/private sector relations in a discomfiting political temperature

The coincidence between what had appeared to be some distinct signs that the frosty relationship between the APNU-AFC administration and the private sector might have been moving in the direction of a gradual thaw and the recent sudden and dramatic reversal occasioned by the announcement by President David Granger that Justice James Patterson was his choice to be the next Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission is worrying in more ways than one.


The weaknesses in the local agro-processing sub-sector have, over the past year or two, secured increasing traction as a talking point at various fora.

Local Content Policy

As 2020 draws closer the learning curve associated with Guyana becoming an oil and gas country will become steeper.


There are a whole host of reasons why Guyana’s agro processing sector has been unable, up until now, to deliver to anywhere near its fullest potential.

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