The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has signalled its intention to throw its weight behind the provision in the 2004 Small Business Act that binds government to ensuring that the small business sector secures a minimum of 20 per cent of procurement contracts issued by the state.
At an event at the Pegasus Hotel on Thursday to mark the launch of its Business Guyana publication, GCCI President Vishnu Doerga said the chamber was seeking a public procurement process that was not only “free from undue interference” but also one “that realizes the promise that 20 per cent of such procurement would be supplied by SMEs.”
In August last year, during the presentation of its 2015 half-year budget, the APNU+AFC administration had signalled its intention to throw its weight behind the creation of an environment in which small and medium-sized enterprises could access a greater share of state contracts. The commitment was extended to include an undertaking that adjustments would be made to the procedures put in place under the Act for applicants to access grants from the Small Business Bureau. Little, however, has been publicly divulged about the streamlining of the bureau’s operations and there are, as yet, no known mechanisms for ensuring the promised 20 per cent allocation to the small business sector.
Officials of the recently created General Contractors Association of Guyana (GCAG) had told Stabroek Business several weeks ago that the construction sector might be “one of the ideal areas” through which to help channel the 20 per cent allocation. However, up to earlier this week a GCAG source said that the association remained “less than happy” with the tender process.
Doerga, meanwhile, told his audience that it was imperative that the private sector raise its game to deliver what he described as “real entrepreneurship.” The Chamber President who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana franchise for the internationally renowned business coaching and training company, Action Coach, declared that what Guyana needed was “entrepreneurship that is valued by all as much as the legal or medical fields… entrepreneurship where the rates of success are higher than the 10 to 20 per cent we currently experience.”
The GCCI, Doerga said, was also concerned over consumer indifference to being provided with sub-standard goods. What the Chamber wished to see, he said, was greater assertiveness on the part of consumers, “demanding better quality goods and services and realizing that as long as they accept sub-standard products and services, that they are the ones keeping such activities alive.”
And in calling for a continual stepping up of the quality of service delivered by professionals in both the public and private sectors, Doerga asserted that such officials “have not been elected, selected or otherwise to serve just ourselves. The faith and funds invested in, and entrusted to us have to bear a return worthy of such investment.”
In the wake of the recent conclusion of the deliberations of the Commission of Inquiry into the Public Service, Doerga told the assembled business officials that the Chamber’s vision for a public sector was one that is “lean, efficient and truly facilitates much-needed growth. We need inter-agency collaboration, reduced bureaucracy and a level of energy and determination that exudes the fact that Guyana means business.”
According to Doerga, what was desirable to take the country forward was “a private and public sector that understands and believes in innovation, corporate entrepreneurship, research and development, meeting and exceeding national and global standards and… seeking to add optimum value to every activity pursued in Guyana.”