Correcting Guyana’s unflattering image as a corruption-ridden country will have to be a priority of his administration if some of his other goals like attracting foreign investment are to be realised.
Recent slippages in the price of gold, particularly those that occurred between two Mondays ago and last Friday have been sufficient to raise eyebrows and, in some cases, even to trigger a hint of nervousness.
This newspaper has commented in previous weeks on the air of expectancy which, in recent months, appears to have enveloped the small business sector, a circumstance which is being attributed to the advent of the Small Business Bureau and more recently the release by the IDB of the first tranche of funding
Every year the government’s budget proposals never fail to trot out some high-sounding rhetoric intended to send political signals of a commitment to the growth of the small business sector.
Having said little in the previous months about the continual unfolding of restrictive regulations in the United States arising out of that country’s enactment of its new food safety legislation and the implications for food exports to the United States, the Government of Guyana has used its 2013 budget presentation to the National Assembly to provide the first significant indication that it is aware of the legislation and its implications.
There is an air of expectancy in the small business sector associated with the emergence of a suite of exciting support projects under the auspices of the state-run Small Business Bureau.
Up until now we have been unable to determine whether Guyana’s public or private sector will be represented at the March 20-21 Caribbean Exporters’ Colloquium at the Hilton Barbados Resort during which, according to a media release from the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export), attendees “will be challenged to take an in-depth look at the report of the West Indian Commission – Time for Action – followed by an analysis of the region’s exports.” Individual Caribbean territories, including Guyana, have done much bellyaching over the years about challenges associated with access to extra-regional markets for goods and services being produced in the region and the available evidence suggests that we have not been able to do much to surmount the problem.
Wherever and whenever we experience a persistent spate of robberies – whether these may target sections of the business community, private homes or citizens going about their routine business – those institutions responsible for protecting the citizenry have every right to worry.
Twice in as many weeks Agriculture Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy has commented on what he perceives to be protectionist trends in intra-regional trade that are locking Guyanese products out of some regional markets.
Time was, almost four decades ago, when the slogan ‘buy local’ was commonplace in Guyana; buying local was regarded as a progressive domestic development designed to encourage Guyanese to consume more of what was produced at home primarily as a means of conserving expenditure on imported foods.
The fatigue and tedium associated with having to continually focus public attention on the problems of garbage collection and disposal in the city and its environs is outweighed only by the importance of getting on top of the problem.
All of the talk that there has been about tourism and its potential to contribute more meaningfully to the country’s economy cannot gainsay the fact that Guyana is not even remotely close to being that tropical tourist paradise which has long been highly marketed to travellers from Europe and North America.
This newspaper has, over the years, been blitzed with stories of businessmen who, for one reason or another, have been denied licences to possess firearms.
After the visit here in November by Trinidad and Tobago Food Production Minister Devant Maraj an announcement had been made to the effect that the governments of the two Caricom countries would sign a Memorandum of Understanding within a matter of days of the visit that would address the details of a collaborative food production initiative involving the two countries.
The strengthening and enforcement of penalties for late payment and non-payment of NIS contributions and the introduction of new legal measures to punish transgressors including the garnisheeing of the income and assets of non-compliant employers are among the matters on which the Eight Actuarial Review have commented.
It did not require the recent intervention of the Chief Medical Officer to make us aware of the fact that food-borne diseases are generally seriously under-reported and may well pose a serious public health threat in Guyana.
Earlier this week the Stabroek Business conducted an interview with two officials of the Forest Products Association (FPA) in order to secure a perspective on the state of the sector.
For all the public comments that have been made about the contribution that gold mining continues to make to the country’s economy, it is clear that far less attention than is warranted is being paid to the downside of the highly touted gold rush.
At the end of every year, with monotonous predictability, talks between the Government of Guyana and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) on the matter of public service wage increases enter into a condition of deadlock.
The seasonal vending that never fails to bring a period of chaos and confusion to the capital is here again.
The recent re-opening of the Guyana Shop inside the completely rebuilt premises housing the New Guyana Marketing Corporation also re-opens a modest window of opportunity for local manufacturers, particularly agro-processors, whose challenges include insufficient adequate outlets through which to market their products.
Not nearly enough public attention is paid to the Auditor General’s Report. If the reverse were true the government would have had to deal with a much more robust public demand that the abysmal standards of accountability that attend the management of the public purse be addressed and that those responsible for what, frequently, is the ill-explained disappearance of public monies be brought to account.
There are several developments in the business sector that could impact positively on local small and medium-sized enterprises.
Several weeks ago this newspaper expressed its considerable disappointment over what it considered to be a missed opportunity by the private sector arising out of a competition by the regional business support body, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) that resulted in winners from various other parts of the region being able to have their goods and services paraded at the recently concluded Olympic Games in London.
One of the frequently discussed business issues in Guyana is the extent to which opportunities exist for the growth of the enterprises in the small business sector.
It has been quite some time since Caribbean Community (Caricom) has been pondering the issue of regional food security.
It took us several weeks to acquire a copy of a paper presented to a seminar on banking and finance by the Governor of the Bank of Guyana.
For the time being at least Guyanese author Maureen Rampertab’s recently launched second book of stories for children, Story Time, is probably safe from the clutches of the predators whose illegal copying and selling of school texts has robbed many an author, publisher and local bookstore of revenues to which they are entitled.
In a recent interview with this newspaper Director of Tourism at the Guyana Tourism Authority, Indranauth Haralsingh, who is serving as the public relations ‘point man’ for this year’s GUYEXPO, declared that the event which begins later this month will be seeking to attract more overseas buyers in order to expand external markets for Guyana’s manufactured products.
In a recent interview with this newspaper the new Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Ronald Webster said that small local clothing manufacturers concerned over the importation of cheap clothing and what they consider to be the unfair competition that such imports present for local seamstresses and other manufacturers should make their views known to the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association.
Last week’s meeting between President Donald Ramotar and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) followed what has now become a familiar pattern of the Head of State having to step in to resolve issues between the government and one sector or another rather than having the matter placed in the hands of the relevant Ministry or state agency.
In recent weeks local gold miners and particularly the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA), the umbrella organization for small and medium-scale gold miners have been making clear their discomfort with the role of the recently established Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment.
Several months ago in an interview with this newspaper, General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis, expressed concern that business houses had become so preoccupied with profits, they were increasingly unmindful of matters that have to do with the welfare of their employees.
One does not get the impression that the private sector in our sister Caricom country, Barbados, stands on ceremony as far as engaging the government on issues that have to do with their respective roles in ensuring that the business community remains what we in Guyana loosely describe as the engine of growth.
One of the issues which the Building Expo has brought to the fore has to do with what would appear to be some important changes in our construction culture that could become permanent features of building in Guyana.
This is not the first occasion on which this newspaper has commented on difficulties relating to access to information on matters of business and the economy, which ought correctly to be placed in the public domain.
On May 11 this newspaper published an editorial on the new Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law by US President Barack Obama in the hope that both the Government of Guyana and the private sector would be reminded of the need to take action to address what is in fact the most sweeping reform of US food safety laws in more than half a century and, more importantly from our vantage point, probably the most formidable threat ever to access to the US market for local exporters.
This is not the first time that the Government of Guyana has intervened to address a shortage of poultry meat on the local market by granting licences for the temporary importation of limited quantities of a commodity that has long been an important part of the local diet.
Twice recently local private sector enterprises missed out on golden opportunities to be considered for the international marketing of goods and services, which were made available through projects funded by the Caribbean Export Development Agency, commonly referred to as Caribbean Export.
Since 2010 farmers in several regions of the country have been participating in what is best described as an experiment designed to further promote the application of hydroponics to agriculture in Guyana.
Just about every senior government official – including President Donald Ramotar – has had his or her tilt at the parliamentary opposition’s cuts to the 2012 budget; the repetitive nature of the well-publicized official protests becoming sufficiently repetitive to cause them to resemble a none too ingenious public relations campaign designed to cause it to appear as though the budget cuts had placed the government’s spending plans for this year in imminent and irreversible jeopardy.
Not too many people bother to bat an eyelid these days when a public announcement is made about the uncovering of a corruption-related occurrence at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
Expressions of concern from the private sector over what it says is a scarcity of skills in key areas of the productive sector are nothing new.
The fact that there is as yet no evidence of a focused response from either the government or the private sector to the recently promulgated US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is reflective of a seeming indifference to a development, which has direct and potentially serious implications for the country’s manufacturing sector (though not exclusively) and particularly for aspiring small businesses within the sector.
The traditionally conservative nature of local umbrella business organisations sometimes makes sound and effective reporting on matters of business and the economy particularly challenging since issues and questions often arise outside the scope of information that is provided in the reports that are made public by those organisations.
In recent years, gold mining in Guyana has drawn attention to itself for more reasons than the fact that the industry has prospered on account of continually rising world market prices for gold.
Guyana is by no means the only country in the world where the utility entities and public facilities are targeted by thieves seeking to strip those installations of metal infrastructure in order to cash in on a lucrative global scrap metal industry.
New opportunities may lie on the horizon for Guyanese women in business following the establishment in March of a regional organization named Women Entrepreneurs (WEN), a US State Depart-ment-backed organization that is concerned with identifying resources available through international organizations with which to support the growth and development of women-run enterprises in the region.
In the section of his 2012 budget presentation that deals with small business, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh has signaled what now appears to be government’s readiness to activate the provisions of the Small Business Act.
There was no mistaking the sense of optimism and enthusiasm in the tone of Suriname Airways Guyana Representative Rudi Westerborg during the briefing which he gave this newspaper earlier this week on the airline’s new twice weekly service between Georgetown and Miami which commences on April 3.