Members have no problem with GCCI going public on some political issues – survey says

(www.stabroeknews.com) Information released in the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) 2014 Needs Assessment Survey indicates that sections of the local business community support the GCCI being vocal on certain political issues.

According to the report on the survey conducted between August and September this year, “94.44% of members are comfortable with the Chamber commenting on current political events that may directly affect the Chamber’s membership.”

Local private sector organisations are customarily mum on issues of government and politics though in recent years the Chamber has attracted public and political attention by making public statements on issues like seeming parliamentary gridlock, local government elections and most recently, the anti-money laundering bill.

It is, however, unusual for the private sector to make public statements critical of government though this year the Chamber’s survey also alludes to private sector concerns over red tape and corruption.

This year too, the GCCI repeated the private sector’s oft expressed concern over what has been a delay of several years in introducing tax reforms, a move which the Chamber has previously said will help to expand the business sector.

Taking the private sector forward, the survey says, will also depend on enhanced “entrepreneurship development-access to resources competitiveness strategy and national competitiveness among others.”

The report issued by the Chamber says that 74 business houses responded to the survey, with 51 being members of the Chamber and 23 being non-members. It adds that of those that responded, to the Chamber’s questionnaire 40.74 per cent belonged to the wholesale/retail sector, while 35.19 per cent were from the manufacturing sector. The report says that 27.77 per cent were from the import and export sector.

Of participants, 55.41% represented businesses with less than 20 employees, 24.32% represented businesses with over 100 employees while 16.22% represented businesses with 21-40 employees.

On Wednesday Stabroek Business conducted telephone interviews with the owners of four business houses two of whom opined that it was the right of the private sector to publicly represent the interests of its members even if the issues were political,

One of them, a prominent merchant in the retail trade said, however, that he believed that there were “political risks” to be run in making public announcements that might be seen as antagonistic to the political administration even if those comments had to do with important business issues.

Asked whether they thought that the idea of such a survey was a good one they all responded in the affirmative though three of them expressed the view that it was the outcome of the survey that would determine its importance.