GCCI President, Mr. Lance Hinds’ Speech: Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony 2014

The Honorable Mr. Rafael Trotman, Speaker of the National Assembly

The Honorable Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance

Ministers of Cabinet

The Honorable Mr. David Granger, Leader the Parliamentary Opposition

Her Excellency Dr. Nicole Giles, High Commissioner of Canada to GuyanaMembers of the Diplomatic Corps

Members of sister business support organisations

Colleagues in the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen…

Let me on behalf of the Executive, Council and members of Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry thank all of you for the taking the time to be with us on this special occasion.

For the benefit of some of you in the audience who might not know us, the GCCI was established in 1890 and is the oldest private sector representative organization in Guyana.We are a member-driven and professionally staffed non-profit association of business people committed to improving the economic climate and quality of life in Guyana. To learn about how online casino websites works and educate how best casino sites operate. We represent a significant voice of the business community and strive to advocate policies, stimulate trade and investment, connect businesses, sustain economic growth and expand member opportunities with the aim of contributing to a stable and sustainable economic and social environment.It is this philosophy that is the underpinning of what we are doing here this evening. Because if our role is to support the growth, evolution and sustainability of the private sector, It is important that we always recognize and salute those businesses that perform exceptionally in their various business endeavors.I don’t think I need to tell anyone in this room that our business environment has its challenges and some might argue it is not for the faint of heart. Therefore, those companies who push ahead, continue to expand their product offerings and horizons are more than deserving of our respect and admiration.

Quite a few of our members have expanded their operations during this year. A few weeks ago Courts Guyana opened a technologically advanced distribution facility. A new supermarket TruValue, was opened during the same period. The Massy Group also opened new distribution and logistics facility with a promise from their group CEO about a further expansion of their operations and new product offerings.We clearly live in interesting and potentially exciting times in Guyana. And as I said a few weeks ago at the opening of a new Courts facility, It seems like every time we turn around there is a delegation or a large company seeking to visit the Chamber to discuss the possibilities of entering the market and also to get a complete picture of the local business environment.

What all of this means is that Guyana has become a place of significant interest. The Caribbean Export Outlook magazine in their 2014-2015 edition wonders in one their articles if Guyana is going to become the next economic tiger and reflects extensively about how that can become a reality.

All of this, for all instances and purposes, augurs well for Guyana in the medium and long term. It promises growth, diversification and modernisation of our economy. It should lead to more employment, upstream and downstream business opportunities. We imagine that this kind of growth over time would reduce the level of migration of our young people because of the level and nature of employment that will be available within this new and exciting paradigm.

The eternal question before us now therefore, is this. If all of these businesses, Courts, Massy, Real Value, Esso and others are expanding and investing in their facilities and services, and investors continue to show interest and make inquiries, Do we not have a responsibility as national stakeholders to ensure that this investment in Guyana that is currently in progress is justified and secure? That the faith shown in this economy is rewarded, and the excitement that is being generated inside and outside Guyana continues, and is turned into our national advantage.

The Chamber is of the view ladies and gentleman is that now more than ever, we need to be prudent and responsible. We are all aware of the current political challenges that we face. We are in, as it said, in previously uncharted waters.

Everybody is watching us now to see we conduct ourselves during this period of some uncertainty. As stated recently by one of our sister business support organizations, The Chamber believes that this is a time for maturity and level headedness, and not some of the political mechanisms that have characterized our landscape in the most recent past.

We are at the crossroads of our history and our future. In 2016, we are going to be fifty years old as an independent nation. How we manage our national affairs, our political and democratic processes, now will set the tone and direction of this nation for many years to come.

It is in this vein that we at the Chamber have some hopes and dreams for the New Year and beyond.

It would be nice to find a way to be less consumed by politics and concentrate more on how we make the policy adjustments necessary to make this economy grow even further and become more diverse. There is no question that this economy has been growing at quite a pace but we still need to catch up with some of our Caribbean brethren in terms of overall GDP net worth.

We as stakeholders have to work together to build an enabling, progressive environment that will convince our citizens to remain and provide significant inputs into the local economy. It is critical that we continue to work on the framework under which further Private Sector expansion will be conceptualized and delivered. This concept must focus on the growth of the small business sector and the active, if not aggressive, encouragement of entrepreneurship and innovation.

We need to work on modernizing our legislation. The nature of the current investments in this economy and the varied types of interest means that there is going to be level of complexity which is not necessarily supported in our current operational environment.

As an example, the development, management and distribution of intellectual assets is a billion dollar industry. We need to upgrade ourselves to participate fully and compete successfully in this area…especially when one takes into account the enormous potential of the Cultural Industries and Technology sectors.

Affordable, reliable power is critical to the nation’s future development but in 2014 still remains a very elusive quest. We continue to hope that a comprehensive solution is found soon to what has been a decades old problem.

We had hoped for telecoms liberalization this year. This is critical to the growth of information technology 1) as a crosscutting component for all the productive and social sectors and 2) for the development of the ICT as a new, viable business sector in its own right. Recent events however, have prevented this.

So ladies and gentlemen these are some of the Chamber’s hopes, dreams and aspirations for the New Year and beyond. I hope that they in some way contribute to a sensible multistakeholder national discussion that is so badly needed at this time.

Let me once again congratulate the nominees for awards this evening and wish all of you very best of luck. Regardless of who receives awards this evening we believe that all of you are winners and let me assure all of you that you will always have the support of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry as you grow from strength to strength.

Let me also take this opportunity to wish all of you a Merry

Christmas, happy holidays and the very best for 2015.

Thank you very much.