Corruption needs to be addressed by gov’t, private sector

– UK High Commissioner tells manufacturers dinner

Greg Quinn

-says keen attention will be paid to 2020 elections

The private sector is the driver of economic development and entrepreneurship is the driver of the private sector. British High Commissioner to Guyana, Greg Quinn, argued on Friday that a recognition of these facts should inspire Guyanese stakeholders to improve the country’s perception of corruption and ease of doing business scores.

Speaking at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) 22nd Annual Presentation Awards Dinner on Friday, Quinn noted that Guyana’s score on Transparency International’s (TI) Corruption Index Report is “unacceptably low”

In 2016 Guyana ranked 108 out of 176 countries with a score of 34, the highest it has ever scored. For 2015, Guyana was ranked 119 with a score of 29 while in 2014, 2013 and 2012 it scored 30, 27 and 28 respectively. Quinn however argued that anything under 50 shows a “failure to tackle corruption.”

No matter the local feeling about TI’s methods, he said, its index is globally accepted and looked at by investors. The issue of corruption needs therefore be addressed by both government and the private sector before oil revenues come on stream as there have been too many instances worldwide where oil revenue is not being spent the way it should be.

Quinn also addressed the World Bank’s latest rankings for the ease of doing business in which Guyana dropped two places from 124 to 126. He noted that while there have been improvements in some areas the bureaucracy must be reduced and setting up of businesses made easier so as to encourage future entrepreneurs.

He acknowledged that ensuring success in these two areas is not the responsibility of any one group and noted that his government has advanced assistance to the Ministry of Business to help improve its capacity.

 Meanwhile President of GMSA, Shyam Nokta acknowledged the role that UK Government played in supporting Guyana’s graduation from being a Highly Indebted Poor Country.

“The UK led the way in moving the international system to support countries like Guyana who were undertaking far-reaching economic reforms to address inherited debt. The UK has been one of the most progressive global voices on international efforts for climate change and provided leadership on the Sustainable Development Goals process,” he told those gathered at the dinner.

In light of these observations Nokta expressed concerns that the UK may play a smaller role.

“We are concerned to see the UK leave the European Union and the potential ramifications. We therefore welcome High Commissioner’s views on these developments including how Guyana and CARICOM can continue to trade with the UK once it has left the European Union,” Nokta said.

In response Quinn noted that the UK’s role will not be diminished. He explained that the UK will continue to be an advocate of free trade and lead by example.

Asked to comment on how the international community, including the UK, plans to support Guyana’s democracy and governance structures, the High Commissioner noted that among other things the UK will be just as vigilant at the 2020 elections as it was at the 2015 election.

Nokta stressed that in looking forward to 2018, the GMSA will be looking for the advancement of Local Content.

“A strong Local Content Framework is critical to ensuring that local businesses can be provided with that opportunity to participate in and benefit from this sector. However, I do believe we need to adopt a systematic approach and not be too prescriptive too early,” he said before acknowledging the work of ExxonMobil’s  Centre for Business Development.

“Many GMSA members have been taking advantage of the orientation and training opportunities from the Centre which is providing useful information, training and guidance to those businesses that are interested in participating in the oil and gas sector. I would like to urge more businesses to take up this opportunity,” Nokta said.