Chamber wants seats on 16 state boards, president says

– pressing for transparency in administration of oil and gas sector

In what is likely to be seen as an initiative aimed at easing the strained relationship between government and the private sector, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Deodat Indar used last Thursday’s launch of the entity’s 2017 Business Guyana Magazine to signal the chamber’s pursuit of a range of collaborative initiatives with government. In a presentation that attracted the rapt attention of public and private sector officials and members of the diplomatic corps the newly elected Head of the GCCI also made it clear that in the matter of the running of the country’s oil and gas sector, there was a number of weighty expectations of both the Government of Guyana and ExxonMobil.

Deodat Indar

In a presentation that sought to send clear signals of the likely direction of the chamber in the period ahead, Indar said government can anticipate intensified advocacy for reduced taxation, reduction of importation issues specifically with Customs and Food and Drugs. The GCCI, according to its president, will, in the immediate term, be pushing for “representation on state boards for agencies that interact and interface with the population and businesses.” This is “in order to contribute to the development of the private sector and Guyana as a whole.”

Other matters on which Indar said the chamber will continue to pursue aggressive advocacy include “parking meters in the city [and] VAT on private tuition.” Beyond that, he said, the chamber was “contributing and advising on the improvement of economic sectors, such are agriculture, manufacturing, importation, wholesale and retail, small and microbusinesses, forestry, financial services, construction, oil and gas and other sectors.”

The chamber, its president added, was also working with other business support organizations, “to remedy issues and constraints facing these sectors in the furtherance of development of the private sector.”

Indar said, meanwhile, that consistent with the chamber’s intention to be “a contributor in the true sense to the development of Guyana” the GCCI will be making representation to the president to have a seat on 16 state boards.

Indar also used his address to announce that the chamber would be seeking to involve trade missions from Canada, the Caribbean and the UK for hosting one of the largest oil and gas and mining shows in June next year.

In what is likely to be seen as one of the more pointed and important recent private sector policy pronouncements, Indar said  that while the chamber is committed to working with the Minister and the Ministry of Natural Resources it would be seeking to constructively criticize, when necessary, for the good of the private sector and Guyanese workers. He said that while the Natural Resources Minister was to be commended for his outreach “with respect to consultation on the oil refinery prospects for Guyana, local content policy and the Petroleum Commission Bill there was also the requirement that the Minister make public his “thinking and intention on the local content policy that is currently in its draft stage, a number of issues including the likely date of an approved policy, and the model that was used as a framework to develop the current draft policy.”

Indar said that the GCCI was also seeking to be informed about issues pertaining to the makeup, independence, appointment, remuneration and removal of members of the board “and how the Bill meshes with good governance, transparency and being bi-partisan.”

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