I wish to congratulate the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce for promoting its first Trade and Agro Expo, which was held on April 7 and 8, at the Anna Regina Community Centre Ground. It was the first time in the history of Region Two that such an Exhibition and Expo was held to promote business, manufacturing and agricultural products, etc. There were about 100 booths built to international standards with all kind of products on display.
There were two previous Essequibo Chambers of Commerce, but they were short lived for some reason or the other. Nothing substantial ever happened under those bodies and they never promoted any kind of exhibition. I don’t think they ever represented the business community, farmers, producers and manufacturers in the region. After a while the last Chamber of Commerce became defunct for decades, and farmers, etc, had no one to represent them. In those days things were a little better so I guess the Chamber wasn’t interested in getting government and other institutions on board.
I have known Mr Deleep Singh for decades. In 1991 I went with the late Cheddi Jagan to hold a meeting on his grant with people from the Pomeroon mouth and downstream. That was the first time we met, and after the meeting we had lunch at his home and he took us on a tour of his coconut estate. It was the first time I saw a coconut dryer; it is a process not much different from drying paddy by dryer. The copra I guess was being sold in Trinidad to produce oil and soap. I have great regard for Mr Singh because he is a man of vision and wisdom. He is a passionate businessman with the driving force to make things happen; no doubt that’s why he became a successful business personality in the region.
Mr Singh saw the need for a vibrant new Chamber of Commerce to promote and protect the farmers and business community as the prices for commodities skyrocketed while the prices for produce fell. He knew that the private sector can play a meaningful role in bringing about changes. A new Essequibo Chamber of Commerce was born after several meetings with the various stakeholders. He became the President of the organization and from that day he and his hardworking team began to work for the betterment of the region and people. He lobbied several government ministers and entities like GTT and GPL for better service in the region.
Mr Singh believes in a stable and ever-expanding economy; this is when he and his hardworking team decided to market Essequibo by holding the first ever Trade and Agro Expo and he invited President David Granger and other ministers of his government. The day before it opened he invited me to visit the ground to see the arrangements and preparations, and I was surprised to see how clean and tidy the venue was. The booths were placed in a circle so visitors could have easy access to them. During my tenure as the acting mayor and deputy mayor this ground was in good order, but not like the state that I saw the ECC had it in for their Trade and Agro Expo; the President and his team indeed mean business.
At the opening of Expo Mr Deleep Singh told President Granger of the critical nature of the situation in the region, and lobbied the President to protect the interest of the manufacturing base. When the President took the podium, he applauded the Chamber of Commerce for the excellent work which they were doing. He told the crowd that Essequibo is blessed with extensive and rich agricultural land, and can be the food basket of the country and the Caribbean. His government would support the Chamber of Commerce, and he urged them to work with the regional bodies like the RDC, the town council and central government in solving the challenges it faced.
Once again I wish to congratulate Mr Singh, Mr Ravi D Mohan, Ms Waveney Singh, Ms Maria Lord-Lewis, Mr Suean Seewnarayn, Ms Guitree Ramsamooj, Mr John Walcott, Mr Deoshankar Mohan, Regional Chairman Devanand Ramdatt, Regional Executive Officer Rupert Hopkinson and the many, many more who made the first Trade and Agro Expo 2017, a success.