Courts Guyana Inc yesterday launched a new $65 million optical department at its Main Street store and Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin said the investment is a testament by the company to the economic opportunities in Guyana.
Speaking at the launch at the store, Gaskin said that with its jump into optical wear, the company is adding a new dimension to its business portfolio in Guyana. “I have no doubt that this new line of business will benefit from the company’s effective marketing strategies through which it promotes its brand, which is something Courts does very well,” he said.
He pointed out that in addition to diversifying the range of products and services it offers to the Guyanese public, the company is also demonstrating its confidence in Guyana’s economy by making another substantial investment. “Courts has been operating in Guyana for over two decades and has steadily expanded its operations and the expansion into the optical market shows that they are seeing economic opportunities here, which is good news for Guyana,” he said, while adding that investments in the economy are more than just a demonstration of investor confidence as they also promote job creation and economic growth.
He said one of the most important responsibilities of the government is to decrease the level of unemployment in the country. Most of the employment, he noted, must come from jobs created from private sector investments as the job of the government is not to create jobs but to maintain an environment in which businesses can be profitable and expand and hire more people.
Like job creation, Gaskin added, economic growth relies on private sector investments. He said while there are currently no measures to track unemployment figures and foreign direct investments, which is used to measure the government’s performance in critical areas, more emphasis will be placed on the use of accurate data to inform decision making.
He further said this will also assist in giving the context to investments, such as Courts’ new venture, and a greater appreciation of the impact and importance of the private sector investments on the economy.
Gaskin emphasised that the government is committed to making the necessary investments in infrastructural development that would make the economy “more attractive to investors.” He said a proper transportation network in particular needs to be in place to move goods and people efficiently throughout Guyana and improvements in the security sector are also being pursued in order to make Guyana safe for people to live and to make businesses safe to operate. “The Ministry of Business will prioritise improving the ease of doing business in Guyana by tackling those weaknesses that were identified in the latest World Bank Ease of Doing Business report,” he added, reiterating a recent commitment to develop and implement measures to address access to electricity and financing. “We will respond in similar manner to the other weakness which are contributing to Guyana’s poor ranking in the global index. The bottom line is that our government wants businesses operating in Guyana to be successful and to be profitable and is willing to make necessary investments to make that happen,” he added.
Also present at the launch was Public Health Minister Dr George Norton, who expressed support for the department. Norton, who is an
ophthalmologist, stated that the prevention and treatment of vision loss are among the most cost-effective health interventions, which makes it very important to visit an eye care professional for an annual comprehensive eye examination. “So far, Guyana has made strides for the provision of eye care for the primary, secondary, and tertiary level,” he said, while adding that the National Optometry Hospital at Port Mourant has changed the landscape of the local health sector.
Norton also said that his ministry will continue to work towards key strategies over the next five years, such as increasing the awareness of the major public health issues, mobilising additional resources, controlling major causes of preventable blindness, and the training of ophthalmologists and other personnel in eye care. “The ministry under the current administration will continue to support and embrace strong collaboration with the private sector as well as non-governmental organisations as we share expertise to identify innovations by creating institutional links,” he said. He added that he wants to emphasise the ministry’s support for the private sector as they work together to elevate the eye health care and wellness amongst the Guyanese population.
Courts Guyana Managing Director Clyde de Haas added that while the company is venturing into an arena far from its usual furniture and electrical services, it is confident that it will make a mark in the optical market.
The department features a wide variety of brand named sunglasses and frames and has a staff body of six, including an ophthalmologist, Dr Joselito Santos from the Philippines. The company has 19 other optical stores across the Caribbean and boasts the option of hire purchase for all of its products.