A new chapter in Guyana/Cuba relations?

This week’s departure of a consignment of local rice for Cuba lends continuity to a series of developments in business relations between Guyana and Cuba which would appear to be heading in the right direction. The rice deal between the local enterprise Nand Persaud and Company and the Cuban state-run enterprise ALIMPORT embraces a long-term multi-million dollar rice market opportunity for Guyana as well as the prospect of the setting up of a Guyana-owned rice mill in Cuba. It must of course be said that the industry owes a debt of gratitude to the enterprise of Nand Persaud and Company.

There have been other developments in Guyana/Cuba business relations in the wake of the post-economic liberalization worthy of mention including the steady movement of Cuban shoppers between Havana and Georgetown engaging in bulk-buying (mostly from the Chinese merchants who, these days, have taken a firm grip on local wholesale/retail trade) presumably to re-sell in Cuba through the myriad small businesses that have sprung up around the country. There are, too, the Easy Sky and Fly Jamaica deals, clearly intended to take advantage of the traffic between Havana and Georgetown.

All of these have provided every indication of an upsurge of bilateral activity between Guyana and Cuba. They have come at a time when one may have been developing the feeling that other countries in the region – like Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago – had been finding their way to Havana to conclude business deals in circumstances where Guyana appeared to be lagging behind. The hope, of course, is for the acceleration of business ties behind Guyana and Cuba, supported of course by the aggressive pursuit of economic diplomacy by the Guyana Embassy in Havana which now, presumably, becomes the primary purpose for its existence. It has to be said, of course, that from all reports, the Embassy has been actively involved in facilitating the various interludes of interaction between public and private sector entities in Guyana and Cuba.

Just this week we learnt that Guyana will be participating in the international Havana Fair (IFHAV) and that the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) is engaging the private sector regarding representation. The occasion of Guyana’s representation at IFHAV will, we understand, facilitate the signing of an MOU between the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, an event which local Chamber President Deodat Indar told the Stabroek Business earlier this week could open up more trade and market opportunities for the Guyanese business community.

It will be recalled that bilateral relations between Guyana and Cuba, which had its origins in the Burnham era, was built on the bedrock of Cuban support for the local health sector. Indeed, it is unlikely that Guyana will ever forget Cuba’s contribution to training Guyanese medical personnel in an era when training in North America and Europe was simply beyond the means of our economy. The portents would appear to suggest that we are about to enter a new phase in relations between Georgetown and Havana.






The Small Business Bureau…going forward

The materialization of a report that allows some insights into the performance of the much vaunted Small Business Bureau in terms of its role in kick-starting a transformation in the small business sector finally allows us the opportunity to evaluate what it has accomplished so far, what some of its failings are and what sorts of adjustments/corrective measures it might take.

Implementing 20% of state contracts to small businesses

It is widely believed that if smoothly implemented and scrupulously monitored the actualization of the provision in the Small Business Act of 2004 for a 20% allocation of government’s “goods and services” contracts to small businesses could make a major, positive difference to the country.

City Hall’s helplessness in another potentially emerging crisis

The breathing space afforded City Hall in the wake of central government’s intervention to liquidate the City’s indebtedness to Cevons Waste Management and Puran Brothers and to foot the bill for services up to the end of December last year, is over.

Strengthening Guyana/Brazil economic relations

It would be entirely fair to say that successive political administrations in Guyana have, over time, continually squandered what, unquestionably, have been glaring opportunities to take advantage of the fact that Brazil, by far this continent’s largest country with the biggest economy, shares a border with us.

Influence peddlers ‘touting’ for would-be investors

During an extended discourse with the Stabroek Business on Wednesday, Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin went to some trouble to make the point that the APNU+AFC administration was particularly keen to provide a convivial environment within which to attract investor attention and (in the presence of Go-Invest Chief Executive Officer, Owen Verwey) made the point that one of his Ministry’s priorities was to properly position and equip Go-Invest to provide the various services associated with investor inquiries.

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