Business Minister hears of Cuban impact in Regent St walkabout

Minister Dominic Gaskin (right) shaking hands with the proprietor of Phagoo and Sons yesterday.

Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin walked along Regent Street yesterday and visited several businesses where he received mixed reviews about the holiday shopping season.

Gaskin, along with a team from his Ministry, endured slight drizzles as they walked down a damp and dreary Regent Street that was recovering from the Christmas shopping season. Gaskin visited Phagoo and Sons, Alim Shah, Broadway Fashion, Harrinarine and Sons, Beepats, Dhorays Fashion, Royal Jewel House, Classic Styles and several vendors, outside and inside, of the Bourda Market during his courtesy tour.

While some of the business owners said they had recorded a drop in sales, as compared to previous years, others related that there wasn’t much of a deviation.

Suresh Narwani, the proprietor of Broadway Fashion, related that while the money has been “a little less and the numbers didn’t add up,” there wasn’t that much of a drop in sales from last year. “All in all, one thing we have a special attribute, everything goes bad until December first, and then, it’s forgotten and forgiven in December,” the man said, while jokingly suggesting to the Minister that he should considering proposing two Christmas seasons per year.

“We have to thank God for the few Cubans who are coming here to shop. We are a wholesaler and they are the ones who buy the stuff, like the older days when we used to go to Trinidad and buy stuff, and we have to support them because we used to do it,” the man related.

However, the businessman related it is not wise to depend on the Cuban shoppers since it is not a sustainable source.

After completing the walk, Gaskin said that he enjoyed being able to interact with the business owners who are the “driving force behind this centre of commercial activity. Some of them have been here for decades, and it is always a pleasure to come out of the office and get around for a change,” he added.

Gaskin also related that from his observation, some people had a good season, some felt it could’ve been better and, “one or two said it was not as good as previous years, so we had a mixed response from most businesses.”

When questioned about what he learned from his visit, Gaskin said, “It wasn’t that kind of visit but really a courtesy, just to exchange pleasantries. It wasn’t a business visit per se, and we didn’t come to do anything other than to wish people all the best for the season. We didn’t walk with any promises, and it wasn’t a visit designed to bring about any changes or anything like that.”

During the walk, many businesses referred to the influx of Cubans, and Gaskin related to Stabroek News that it’s “always good” to have people come to the country and shop, and it is something the government should be building on. “…Because they are coming in numbers and supporting our economy and it is not something that we are in anyway against,” he said.

He also explained that the Cubans are coming to Guyana because they find the shopping here “attractive” and find the prices “good.”

“I think Guyana is a place that they can travel to easier than perhaps some of the other countries, and there are a number of reasons why they are coming,” he noted.

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