Former PSC Head wants Competitiveness Council to serve as recognized forum for public/private sector dialogue

– says political labelling must end

Against the backdrop of a low-key meeting between high level government and private sector officials on Thursday May 4, following a protracted interlude of iciness and harsh words on both sides, former president of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Gerald Gouveia has told the Stabroek Business that differences between the state and the business community were likely to persist to the detriment of the Guyana economy unless a reliable mechanism was found to ensure that “the door to dialogue and discourse” between the two sides was kept open “even in the face of differences and verbal hostilities.”

Speaking with this newspaper on the significance of the meeting between public and private sector delegations led by Finance Minister Winston Jordan and PSC Chairman Edward Boyer, respectively, Gouveia said that while the meeting itself was conducted in a spirit of cordiality and concluded “on a positive note,” it was clear that “the business of the public/private sector agenda” cannot be conducted in an environment that depended on the tone of relations between the two sides from one moment to the next. “Frankly, I hate the war of words that occurs every so often but if we cannot prevent that then we must at least seek to create a situation in which those differences do not stop the two sides from talking altogether,” Gouveia, who is also the Chairman of the Commission’s Governance Committee, said.

Finance Minister Winston Jordan

The May 4 meeting was held against the backdrop of sustained buildup of a ‘head of steam’ leading to tough talk on both sides arising out of a range of issues set out in a joint government/PSC release issued earlier this week. The release listed  government’s placing of value-added tax on tuition, the tributors’ tax on the mining sector, the need for anti-dumping and mergers and acquisitions legislation and the introduction of a single window tax system as being among the burning issues on the public/private sector agenda.

Gouveia, however, was adamant that the focus on the agenda was only serving to conceal what he termed “the

Private Sector Commission’s Gerald Gouveia

more immediately relevant issue,” which he said was “creating an environment in which discussions can be held in the first place. And while the joint Ministry of Finance/PSC media release described the talks as “fruitful” Gouveia told this newspaper that “speaking for myself it is difficult to see how constructive, goals-driven discussions can be realized in a toxic environment.”

The joint media release alluded to a letter received from Minister of State Joseph Harmon regarding the need for “a formal structure within which government and the private sector could engage.” However, Gouveia said that in his opinion such a structure already existed in the form the National Competitiveness Council (NCC) which not only provided a framework for discourse but also allowed for dialogue between the two sides “at the very highest levels.” He added that “rather than seek to reinvent the wheel it might be a good thing to seek to revive the meetings of the NCC,” where the highest officials and decision-makers in both the government and the PSC are present and can engage in constructive discourses.”

PSC Chairman
Edward Boyer

In the joint media statement, the PSC Chairman was quoted as alluding to “the previous successful collaboration facilitated by the under the National Competitiveness Council” and urging “the restoration of an institutionalized means of consultation and decision-making between the government and the private sector.”

Boyer is also quoted in the media as alluding to “disparaging and unwarranted labels applied to their efforts to speak out in the national interest.” The remark by Boyer, believed to be a reference to assertions regarding the political outlook of some private sector officials has led to concern that the issue may lead to irreparable damage in the relationship between the government and the private sector. Boyer is also quoted as saying, “It is time to change the rhetoric.”

Gouveia, meanwhile, told Stabroek Business that he shared the view that the practice of “political colouring” does not “do any good for the relationship between government and the private sector.”

Comments  

Wardens to be deployed against gold smugglers next year – Finance Minister

The efforts of the Ministry of Natural Resources attended by external support notwithstanding, the Government of Guyana still considers the phenomenon of gold smuggling to be seriously injurious to the country’s economy and in his recent 2018 budget presentation to the National Assembly, Finance Minister Winston Jordan set out the APNU+AFC administration’s proposals for helping to address this problem.

Company to oversee Guyana’s commercial petroleum interests to be created next year

aNatural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman has disclosed three key objectives which the Government of Guyana will be pursuing in 2018 to consolidate its capacity to effectively service a modern oil and gas industry including a national oil company which will be charged with responsibility for overseeing the country’s commercial interest in the sector.

Hinterland communities promised $200m Green Enterprise Development Centre

Against the backdrop of longstanding concerns over a dire shortage of job opportunities in hinterland communities, government has disclosed plans in the 2018 budgetary proposals for a $200 million investment in the Hinterland Green Enterprise Development Centre at Bina Hill in Region Nine which, according to Finance Minister Winston Jordan, seeks to focus on areas of training “that leverages indigenous and traditional knowledge and drives upstream demand for local products and services.” The disclosure in Jordan’s 2018 budget presentation of what he describes as a “flagship initiative” comes against the backdrop of a growing clamour for the creation of job opportunities for residents of hinterland communities that go beyond their reliance on the production and sale of traditional craft and small scale agriculture.

A hinterland community readies itself for township status

These days, there are unmistakable indications that Mahdia is busying itself preparing to embrace the township status that beckons.

Lucas sees 2018 as breakout year for UG’s School of Business

Five months after the University of Guyana’s School of Entrepreneurship and Business, (SEBI) was launched, Dean of the new institution, Guyanese-born Professor Leyland Lucas has told the Stabroek Business that some of the challenges that repose in ensuring that the institution delivers on its mandate repose in the fact that “it is different.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×