The Sophia Business Exposition and beyond

There was an encouraging sense of entrepreneurship amongst many of the vendors who placed their goods on display at last month’s first ever Small Business Exposition.

The Small Business Exposition

One assumes that (sooner rather than later) there will be some sort of official assessment of last weekend’s Business Exposition, the event being the first of its kind and the organisers, presumably, wanting to determine whether the event might have been sufficiently successful to warrant its annualisation.

The small business exposition

There would not have been a Small Business Exposition but for the fact—at least so we are told—that as far as the annual GuyExpo is concerned we are saving our effort for the 50th Anniversary of Guyana’s independence at which time we will stage what is likely to be the biggest GuyExpo ever.

The Ogle Airport brouhaha

It has been a memorable week for the local aviation sector, for the wrong reasons.

Tourism aspirations and a hospitality institute

News that Guyana has invited the Director of the Hospitality Institute of Barbados to give support to the creation of a similar facility here in Guyana is welcome, even if it leaves us none the wiser as to a time frame for the creation of our own local centre of excellence as far as raising the bar in the hospitality sector is concerned.

City Hall and the capital cleanup

It is entirely fair to give City Hall a gentle pat on the back for what we expect is an ongoing effort to change the appearance of the city – and its own image in the process – even as it appears to enjoy a relationship with the present administration than it apparently did with the previous one.

Food import regulations and officially sanctioned loopholes

At a time when governments in developed countries are embracing legislative measures to protect their populations against food-borne diseases associated with lax importation policies that pay less than careful attention to food imports, it behooves governments in poor countries, which, on account of their already profligate and often less than carefully overseen import policies, to follow suit by adhering to their own already existing laws and regulations and where necessary to have those tightened.

Food safety

The announcement by the Government Analyst Food & Drugs Department earlier this week about a particular brand of milk that the information on the label does not accurately communicate to the consumer the contents of the product and some possible health issues may well have passed unnoticed amongst a sizeable section of the consuming public.

Tourism

There has been some evidence, recently, of a deliberate attempt on the part of government to accord tourism a higher national profile.

Packaging and labelling and the enhancement of market access

During the course of a conversation with a group of agro processors last week, Stabroek Business learnt that across the country several hundred would-be entrepreneurs continue to be constrained in their ambitions on account of their inability to take their pursuits to the next level, that is to say beyond the stage of producing a few bottles of pepper sauce or ground seasoning in their kitchens and selling these to family and friends and at small stalls in the municipal markets.

Taking stock of the GGMC’s performance

Even as the government contemplates its next moves to shore up a mining sector reeling under pressure from continually falling gold prices, a succession of mining accidents some of which have resulted in multiple deaths and what, at this stage, is just the beginning of potentially scandalous allegations of large scale smuggling of gold out of Guyana, the recently concluded four-member Commission of Inquiry into “mine accident deaths by pit collapse” has launched a scathing attack on the sector’s key regulatory agency, the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) charging, among other things, that the agency lacks “the focus, capacity and/or strategy to ensure that (gold mining) operations are meeting their legal responsibilities under accepted health and safety laws and guidelines and the requirements of the Mining Act.” In a report that refuses to spare the feelings of the GGMC and its senior functionaries the Commissioners state that while the GGMC “should always aggressively prohibit any operator from running an unsafe operation until corrective measures….are implemented and passed”, the GGMC has taken the position of “looking the other way.” Asked to provide an interpretation of this comment, a Commission official told this newspaper that it appears to suggest that the regulatory agency “is complicit in some of these safety transgressions.” The blunt revelations contained in the report present a considerable headache for government since they are serious enough to raise questions as to whether, in its present form, the GGMC is equipped to manage the gold industry.

New Broomes

From the various accounts that we have received regarding Junior Minister Simona Broomes’ walkabout on Regent Street on Tuesday, including the account given to us by the minister herself, the experience was both revealing and deeply disturbing.

Waiting for public/private sector relations to take a discernible shape

Several weeks ago this newspaper learnt through the Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Major General (retd) Norman McLean that arising out of a meeting which the private sector had had with representatives of the new political administration, including the President, David Granger, a private sector team would be involved in the planning of a national economic forum that would include business officials of all hues and government officials whose portfolios had to do with business, investment and the economy.

The business of back-to-school trading

Retail trading this past week has been dominated by spending on items associated with equipping children to return to school for the first term of the new academic year.

Opening new doors (and new challenges) to our small businesses

The announcement by Finance Minister Winston Jordan in his budget presentation that government intends to activate a provision of the Small Business Act of 2004 that allows for medium and small enterprises to access up to 20 percent of government contracts will be music to the ears of those smaller goods and service providers who have been complaining for years about being locked out of access to contracts for services to the state even in circumstances where they say they are capable of providing those services.

The Town Clerk and the Stabroek Market Wharf

It is probably about two weeks (or thereabouts) since Mr. Royston King, the new Town Clerk, publicly announced that he would be giving priority attention to the rehabilitation of the collapsed section of the Stabroek Market wharf – and while that exercise is going on – the relocation of at least some of the vendors who are now displaced.

The President and the rice industry

It is evidently not by accident that in one of his relatively early public presentations substantively connected to the country’s economy President David Granger has signalled his concern for the challenges confronting the rice industry and his government’s interest in supporting the sector in its anticipated response to the problem.

Small vendors brooding over ‘no GuyExpo’ disclosure

Since the disclosure in the Friday July 10 issue of this newspaper to the effect that there will be no GuyExpo this year, we have spoken with quite a few vendors who customarily offer items of food, clothing, ornaments and costume jewellery for sale at the event.

PetroCaribe: Trust irretrievably imperiled?

Prior to Minister Noel Holder’s intervention earlier this week to announce that the situation with regard to Guyana’s rice exports to neighbouring Venezuela was not as dire as had been initially thought, rice farmers, millers and the populace as a whole would have experienced some heart-stopping moments in the matter of the fate of huge volumes of rice that had already been consigned to Venezuela.

Small Business Development

Like so many of the recent public pronouncements that have been made by the new political administration regarding its agenda for development, those recent ones made by Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin about government’s plans to create an enabling environment in which small businesses can better thrive, amount to commitments, the actualization or otherwise of which could help determine the shape and state of the economy in the period ahead.

No post-elections honeymoon on flooding

There was a familiar air of fretfulness and frustration among market vendors at the start of the week as they bemoaned their loss of trade and spoilage of goods arising out of last weekend’s ferocious downpour which, predictably, immersed in the capital and other coastal areas in several inches of water.

Development and the diaspora

The goodwill that has been extended to the new political administration by nationals in the diaspora is a corollary to the high level of interest that had been evinced in the elections campaign by Guyanese residing abroad.

Public/private sector partnership and the new political administration

The presence of President David Granger out and about last Sunday morning, taking a look at work being undertaken to unblock clogged drains in the city and to restore the once impressive Independence Arch in Brickdam served to send a signal of his interest in restoring a sense of physical order in the country’s capital and repairing our historic sites and monuments.

Small business and official addiction to lip service

After several years of attending events like GuyExpo, interacting with manufacturers, particularly in the agro-processing sector, monitoring the emergence of the Small Business Bureau and attending endless fora where small business issues are discussed, this newspaper has arrived at some unshakable conclusions.

Guyanese in the diaspora

Jamaica will host its Sixth Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference during the period June 13 to 18 2015 at the Montego Bay Convention Center.

Taking the local craft industry forward

At face value it may not sound like a great deal and, moreover, it is only one of a multitude of initiatives required to address the varied challenges facing the local craftspeople and artisans and their industries.

The Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association

Whether President of the Guyana Manufacturing & Services Association (GMSA) Clinton Williams would have made much headway during his presentation at last Friday’s Annual General Meeting in his quest to persuade his audience that the umbrella body had made meaningful strides in overseeing the development of the manufacturing sector under his watch is not something that can be determined from a distance.

Giving real meaning to Occupational Safety and Health

More than a week into April – Occupational Safety and Health Month – little if anything has been heard from either the government or the private sector about plans to commemorate what, in Guyana’s particular circumstances is an occasion of considerable significance if only because of our own less than stellar record on the issue of workplace safety and health.

Tracking the MSE Project

It has been two months since around 60 beneficiaries received grants totalling some $20 million under the Micro and Small Enterprises (MSE) Development and Building Alternative Livelihoods for Vulnerable Groups’ project.

Drug trafficking and our export markets

In relatively recent years—at least as far as we know—a range of our food exports have been used as conduits for the movement of illicit drugs to export markets, a practice that has begun to negatively affect the country’s reputation as a legitimate exporter.

Supporting the entrepreneurial ambitions of our womenfolk

The keenness of women to embrace self-employment reflects itself at several levels of our society, from the preponderance of vendors in the various municipal markets, arcades and pavements in the city and its environs to the more established ‘high street’ and services entities in the beauty, entertainment and other sectors.

Bettering our abysmal workplace safety and health credentials

We take our role as a “business supplement” to mean, among other things, that we have a responsibility to report not only on substantive business issues but on related ones as well, that is, matters which we feel have a critical bearing on business and the economy.

The Avon closure

There were some revealing stories to be told this week by persons, mostly women, involved in the marketing of Avon products here in Guyana following the announcement by the American company that it was closing its distribution operations in sixteen Caribbean countries, including Guyana.

Public, private sector indifference to workplace safety and health

Up to the time of the writing of this editorial neither the public nor the private sector had bothered to make a public comment on the fact that there were two workplace accidents on the two preceding Fridays; the first in the bauxite industry and the second in the rice sector.

Holding BCGI’s Russian management to account

A few weeks ago Natural Resources and Environment Minister Robert Persaud provided responses to questions put to him by this newspaper about conditions in the mining sector covering both the gold and bauxite industries and embracing such issues as the general state of health of the respective industries, safety and health, the environment and – in the particular case of the bauxite industry, industrial relations.

Cheaper oil

This week’s announcement by Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh that fuel prices at GuyOil pumps would have been reduced by Wednesday could have come earlier, though the fact that it has come at all is a blessing for both ordinary consumers and for the business community as a whole.

Gold in 2015

The portents, even this early in the year, suggest that 2015 could be an even tougher year for the gold-mining industry than 2014.

Bright sparks in the manufacturing sector

The Stabroek Business has begun the year by drawing attention to two modest manufacturing entities that have set out to raise standards in a sector that has been performing sluggishly for several years.

Foot-dragging on regional food production

On Saturday last the Stabroek News published a story about a group of potential investors from Trinidad and Tobago who had come to Guyana to scout local lands suitable for large-scale farming initiatives.

The Commissioner General’s missive on corruption

Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Khurshid Sattaur can take no credit for frankness in his letter published in last Monday’s issue of the Stabroek News in which he appears to concede that some of his own officers are guilty of corrupt practices for which they are generously rewarded.

Illicit drugs, counterfeit goods and the fortunes of the private sector

On Friday August 22, 2008, this newspaper published a report based on a disclosure made by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) to the effect that it would be taking a tough line against business houses known or believed to be involved in the pedalling of illicit drugs and the marketing of counterfeit goods.

Bourda Market and the flood

Even at the best of times, that is to say during periods when there is no excessive rainfall and no flooding, the status of Bourda Market (and other municipal markets) as a facility in which the business of conducting trade in items of food, including perishables, is highly questionable.

The Food and Drugs Department Complex

Director of the Food and Drugs Department Marlon Cole may have been short on details regarding what he told this newspaper was the planned creation of a new complex to house his department.