Political rivalry, high electricity and lack of a clear strategic policy on diversification are the three most worrisome challenges for 2014 as it relates to the barriers facing Guyana’s productive sectors.
This is according to President of the GeorgetownChamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Clinton Urling, who says that the country has to move away from the sector-focused monoculture currently dominated by commodities and primary agriculture and toward the goal of diversifying.
“Diversify or die… It is as simple as that if we are serious about sustaining the long period of (economic) growth we currently enjoy.”
Urling made his views known during a recent interview that was released to the media, where he said that Government has to provide the foundation that harnesses and leads the private sector to new activities and productive capabilities.
Asked about the most important single development that impacted negatively on the economy in 2013, Urling said that while the drop in gold prices, poor returns on sugar from GuySuCo and the exit of the US air carrier Delta Airlines were three significantly adverse developments, “they all take a back seat to the incessant political rivalry that has effectively seen initiatives and institutions good for the country’s development not being implemented and/or established.”
According to Urling, both sides of the political divide fail to reach out and compromise on the development and execution of initiatives that would benefit the country’s economy and make it easier for our private sector to operate.
“Cuts in funding for various infrastructural projects, the non-support for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and anti-money laundering legislation, the failure to establish institutions for improving transparency and accountability in public business and the inability to mitigate current public perceptions of corruption are just a few of the most significant causalities in the current political standoff.”
As it relates to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during 2014, Urling said, despite all the challenges, “I remain optimistic about the Guyana economy in 2014 and I do expect moreforeign investments.”
He said that Guyana’s factor endowments will always attract foreign investments, but the government has to be more proactive in this regard, and that will have to start with a reformed GO-Invest and new leadership at the helm of that important agency.
“Our economic needs are outpacing public funds that are available to fund Guyana’s growth and expansion. It is critical that we craft innovative approaches to attract investments to Guyana, which ensure that we are capable of achieving our full potential.”