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.
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.
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.
There has been some evidence, recently, of a deliberate attempt on the part of government to accord tourism a higher national profile.
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.
There have always been complaints about underhand goings-on in the world of car dealerships.
A week ago the Head of Trans Guyana Airways Mr Michael Correia introduced a Rayethon Beechcraft 1900D aircraft into the country’s aviation sector.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Minister of Health Dr George Norton has formally disclosed that the government has halted what was clearly an attempt a few weeks ago to ‘walk’ a $572 million payment to the New Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (New GPC) through the system.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
International tour operators visiting Guyana never fail to leave these shores without commenting on the underachievement of the country’s tourism sector.
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.
Jamaica will host its Sixth Biennial Jamaican Diaspora Conference during the period June 13 to 18 2015 at the Montego Bay Convention Center.
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.