Uncustomed goods

Wednesday’s release from the Guyana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) Law Enforcement and Investigation Division (LEID) that it had seized uncustomed goods valued at $20 million in the month of January would probably hardly have attracted a great deal of public attention beyond the actual newspaper headline.

Budget and expectations

The closest that this newspaper was able to come to getting anyone in authority to talk about some of the likely features of the APNU-AFC coalition’s first full annual budget came during an extended interview with Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin on Wednesday.

The small business sector and economic growth

Anything remotely resembling accurate monitoring and measurement of growth in Guyana’s small business sector has not been possible over the years since no reliable mechanism exists for so doing.

City Hall and construction projects

There was something more than a trifle curious about last week’s announcement that City Hall had called a halt to construction work on the 81-82 Camp and Robb streets construction site after it had been determined that the developer had apparently gone ahead with the exercise without receiving the requisite permission from the City Engineer’s Department.

Changing times

There were things about the seasonal commercial activity that were different this year.

The government and the private sector

Several months ago this newspaper was briefed by Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Norman McLean about the planned staging of a public/private business/economic forum which, as we understood it, was intended to chart a course for a longer-term relationship between the business sector and the new political administration.

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.

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.