– tax and security reforms, transparency a must
The private sector has listed 20 main barriers that are stagnating the business environment, including security and tax reforms and the holding of local government elections.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has since prepared a “Competitiveness Manifesto” which it hopes will spur remedial action.
The advocacy body, comprising over 100 top businesses, met earlier this week with A Partnership For National Unity (APNU), the largest Opposition bloc in the National Assembly.
According to APNU, Leader of the Opposition, (R’td.) David Granger and Policy Adviser, Lance Carberry met with the GCCI’s President, Clinton Urling; Immediate Past President, Komal Ramnauth, Executive Director, Bonita Lowden, and the Marketing and Communications Officer, Roderick Bascom, on the issue.
“The purpose of the meeting was to enable the GCCI to make a presentation of their Competitiveness Manifesto which identifies their Top 20 Barriers to Guyana’s Competitiveness and provides An Agenda for Action,” APNU explained yesterday.
“The meeting enabled the elaboration of the concerns of the GCCI and for the issues identified to be commented on and clarified. It was agreed that the APNU Shadow Cabinet would review the document and, at a mutually convenient time, there would be a follow-up meeting with the Executives of the GCCI.”
According to the document, the building of a more productive and an internationally competitive economy represents an unprecedented collective project that involves virtually every network and stakeholder group in the country. This includes involvement of not only businesses but Parliamentarians, the education sector, all levels of Government and citizens.
“The challenges of achieving and sustaining significantly higher economic growth, of reducing poverty, of creating good jobs for our labour force, of building strong businesses and a healthy private sector must be met initially by working through and resolving the issues associated with numerous current barriers to Guyana’s capacity and capabilities for global economic competitiveness,” Urling said in the manifesto.
GCCI listed political stability, use of alternative energy to reduce power costs and the transformation of the University of Guyana as some of the actions that needs to be taken to make the country more competitive.
Regarding UG, GCCI believes that the institution should be managed in a profession manner free from political and partisan interference.
GCCI is also recommending the establishing of a development bank which will see reduced interest rates and the fostering of an environment that will cater for more financing to small businesses.
“We need a development bank, preferably structured in the public/private partnership model that offers longer term lending, lower interest rates and economically feasible collateral requirements.”
GCCI is also calling for more transparency and accountability in the management of the public and private sectors, noting that it should be one of the highest priorities for the country’s leaders as there would be the building of a climate of trust.
“That trust is achieved in the public sector by providing accurate and complete information on expenditures, projects and other transactions.”
The business body also called for the enactment of the Public Procurement Commission and the addressing of the skills problem facing Guyana.
The ease of opening a business, along with a reduction of the red tape and the opening up of the economy for new telecommunication companies, should also be explored as part of the plan to improve the country’s competitiveness, GCCI urged.
Policy makers will also have to find ways to improve Guyana’s attractiveness to investments along with the strengthening of the commercial court.