A recent visit to the ‘spread’ of a fruit farmer in Berbice revealed a phenomenon that is almost certain to shock those of us whose day-to-day experiences do not bring us into contact with the general environment associated with fruit farming.
This newspaper well remembers the May 2019 passage in the National Assembly of those key amendments to the 2003 Procurement Act which (we had thought) paved the way for suitably equipped small businesses to have access to 20% of state contracts.
Since the World Bank has as many tools as any other organization with which to fashion projections regarding the likely behaviour of the global economy, going forward, it is altogether reasonable to assume that some measure of seriousness will be attached to its projections and predictions in the period immediately ahead.
Whatever predictions and projections we might have as a nation for the year that begins today, these cannot fail to take account of the formidable imponderables with which we are confronted.
While the appeal by the President of the Tourism & Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar, for a reopening of the various entertainment spots was entirely predictable, even understandable, the point cannot be made too strongly that such consideration as is given to THAG’s appeal must be set against the objective conditions that obtain, that is to say, those conditions that have to do with the circumstance of the pandemic and the threat that it continues to pose, on the one hand and on the other, the situation in which the entertainment sector finds itself.
Every year, we get these routinised seasonal pronouncements from the Fire Chief that target both private homes and the commercial sector, cautioning against the customary Christmas time indulgences like the additional consumption of power against the backdrop of what has been, for years a decidedly unreliable electricity supply regime,(and a failure over the terms of office of several political administrations) to fix the faults that obtain at a perpetually-in-crisis Guyana Power and Light Company (GPL).
President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) Dr Warren Smith was not the only senior official in recent times to use a public forum to allude pointedly to the propensity in developing countries for funding provided by international lending agencies to disappear down dark, corruption-infested holes even as those awaiting the suffering-alleviation measures that these funds are intended to bring, sink deeper into destitution.
The disclosure earlier this week that quantities of Colgate toothpaste that expired eighteen years ago were still being sold on the local market and that this scandalous circumstance was only brought to the attention of the Government Analyst–Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) through a consumer complaint, is a manifestation of just how ineffective our consumer protection mechanisms are, how completely disregarded the attendant laws have become and how low some ‘business houses’ can stoop in their quest to ‘turn a dollar.’
Only time will tell whether the recent visit to Suriname by President Irfaan Ali would have marked a definitive and – for both Guyana and Suriname – mutually beneficial turning point in bilateral relations between the two countries.
In The tumult attending the March general elections and its eventual outcomes there had been something of a lull in reporting on the work of some key state agencies, an understandable circumstance since public attention had shifted in altogether different directions.
In a country of incremental advances in media freedom arising through no effort on the part of government but rather on account of the gradual rolling out of an increased number of media houses and advancements in enabling technology, the various publics have, over time, become more vociferous, more empowered in ‘talking back’ to government.
As this newspaper has said several times before, we have every reason to be exceedingly proud of the various small economic ventures in the agriculture, agro-processing and the creative sectors.
The environment of aplomb in which the Small Business Bureau was launched at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre in October 2013 was always felt in some quarters to be a dead giveaway insofar as its likely success in bearing the weight of nurturing a robust small-business infrastructure was concerned.
It is, truth be told, a considerable pity that relations between Guyana and Suriname at the government-to- government level have not, for the most part, matched cross-border people-to-people relations.
The tremendous creativity, energy and willpower that have been invested in the creation of micro and small businesses in various sectors by many ordinary Guyanese determined not just to fight their way out of poverty, but also to make a mark as worthwhile businessmen and women, have not, over the years benefitted from a level of support from either government or the lending sector – or the private sector as a whole – that can be considered commensurate with either their effort or with their potential to enhance the viability of the country’s economy. It is true that there are some micro and small businesses that have grown, impressively in some instances.
Arguably, some of the very best years – the growth years – for agro-processing in Guyana were the five or so years prior to the onset of COVID-19.
In more ways than one the international community has been ‘caught out’ by the advent of the coronavirus.
The news earlier this week that a Brazilian miner was fined $12 million for allegedly committing several environmental transgressions in pursuit of his mining activities, including destroying a section of the Cuyuni River bank, would by now have gotten left behind amidst the various other issues that compete for public attention at this time.
According to a media release issued by the Ministry of Human Services & Social Security on Friday last, the Government of Guyana has set a timeline for the establishment of “several micro enterprise driven projects at the grassroots level… to coincide with the 50th Anniversary of diplomatic ties between Guyana and the People’s Republic of China in 2022,” from which it is hoped that “tangible results” will accrue.
Perhaps surprisingly, the UN Secretary General’s Policy Brief titled “Education During COVID-19 and Beyond” released at the beginning of August and which examines the challenge of restoring education systems, globally, and even seeking to render education delivery more robust, more efficient, in the post COVID-19 era, has not benefitted from a great deal of traction in the media here.