Municipalities must function like corporations – Granger

Municipalities must functions like corporations and earn their keep, says President David Granger who said “capital towns” will be established in every region to drive economic development.
“Municipalities must be capable of weaning themselves off of government subvention and earn their keep. They must generate their own resources, financing and raise revenues to finance their development,” Granger told attendees at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) 126th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Pegasus hotel on Thursday.
“Municipalities must function like corporations. This corporate status will allow them greater autonomy and financial independence. It will expand their revenue base and allow them to invest their surplus revenue prudently,” he said. Towns must be capable of eventually financing their own infrastructure, he added.
The President declared that it is time for a “capital town” mindset which emphasises the role of towns in moving beyond providing traditional municipal services. “The new emphasis should be on promoting business, driving economic development and giving leadership to our regions. Guyana will develop only if its regions are strong. Our regions must no longer be viewed as mere administrative appendages of central government. Our regions must become motors of economic growth. The potential of our regions is indisputable,” he declared.
Against the backdrop of the first local government elections to be held here in almost 22 years, Granger said the polls should lay the foundation for a new partnership between central government and local government with the aim of strengthening the regions rather than perpetuating a dysfunctional system. He emphasised that the democratisation of local government is necessary for the planned economic take-off of Guyana’s towns and regions.
“A capital town will be established in every region,” he said identifying several new towns such as Lethem as the capital of the Rupununi. Mahdia, in Region Seven, will become a town later this year, he said.
He spoke of Guyana’s “new economic geography, a reality that will emphasise the centrality of our capital towns in fostering economies of scale which are essential to economic growth.”
The President said that the capital towns have an important role to play in developing the economies of the regions by encouraging growth. In this regard, he highlighted four factors necessary for growth inclusive of infrastructure, which he said will reduce transportation costs, provide access to markets, increase the competitiveness of production and stimulate increased output; and investment which will spur new industries and aid in overcoming competitive disadvantages and economies of scale and by fostering job-creation, particularly non-agricultural jobs such as banking and engineering. Granger also highlighted innovation and information and communications technology.
“Our hinterland and rural landscape will be opened up for orderly development. Our towns will lead this change and in the process, create boundless opportunities for the business community in Guyana. Our aim is to modernise local government and to catapult our municipalities into the 21st century. Our aim is to catalyse the economies of our towns, our communities and our regions. Tremendous opportunities for all will unfold as we boost the economies of our regions through the instrumentality of our capital towns. The challenges that present themselves will be dwarfed by the opportunities for economic growth that lie ahead,” Granger declared.
The president’s remarks were welcomed by Secretary of the GCCI Nicholas Deygoo.

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