(www.guyanatimesgy.com) Outgoing President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Clinton Urling announced on Thursday that the GCCI raked in $41.3 million in the Financial Year 2013, $18.6 million more than the previous year.
“The difference is almost a 100 per cent turnaround from the revenues which we had last year; 80 per cent of our revenue came from non-membership dues activities,” he explained during GCCI’s 125th Annual General Meeting at Duke Lodge.
But though the Chamber garnered $41.3 million in revenue at the end of December 31, 2013, its expenditure stood at $31.5 million. This level of expenditure was predicted, Urling posited, noting that the GCCI executed a wide range of activities in keeping with its mandate to propel economic activities within Georgetown and the wider Guyana.
He appeared proud of the accomplishments made by the entity under his stewardship as he presented his last address as head of this vital private sector organ in society. “It has been a tremendous honour to lead GCCI for the past two terms and I would like to express how grateful I am to have been given this tremendous honour,” he said.
Urling is leaving the chamber with an unblemished record – one that shows the gigantic steps the private institution has made over the last two years, gaining added recognition for the stance taken on critical matters. Simultaneously, GCCI continues to accelerate growth within its realm.
“We have continued to offer services to our membership that allow them the opportunity to expand and develop their businesses. We have done this while preserving and increasing our financial capacity to ensure the organisation’s long-term success and sustainability,” the outgoing GCCI President said.
Urling was awarded for his contribution to GCCI and his outstanding performance in the private sector.
Urling used the opportunity to admonish the policymarkers at the level of the National Assembly to act in the best interest of the people of Guyana by making critical decisions that would enhance transparency and economic growth. “We want local government elections to be held this year. We want the Government to give GECOM [Guyana Elections Commission] all the tools and resources it needs to get this done forthwith.”
Calls were also made for the passage of an effective Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill in the National Assembly. The AML/CFT Bill is currently at the level of the Special Select Committee at a time when Guyana has missed not one but several critical deadlines imposed by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF). The country’s non-compliance posture is leading it down a road of “blacklisting” which can consequentially lead to economic turmoil.
“We want programmes and incentives that encourage Guyana’s best and brightest to stay and develop our private sector, thus creating more jobs in the country. We want a clear and concrete diversification and manufacturing strategy that removes our dependence on international commodity prices,” he added rolling out the Chamber’s list of expectations.
Calls were also made for the operationalisation of a National Competitiveness Council; the Public Procurement Commission (PPC); the implementation of modern intellectual property laws; and a Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) that would accelerate the time taken to process imports and exports.
Canadian High Commissioner to Guyana, Dr Nicole Giles also applauded Urling and the GCCI’s Executives for their unwavering support to the private sector, noting that they have exemplified the spirit of entrepreneurship and investment. “There is little that can match the power and scope of private investment when it comes to innovation, prosperity, and security of developing nations such as Guyana.”
As she continued to underscore the critical role being played by the private sector, the Canadian High Commissioner said without private investment, sustainable economic development is nothing but a dream. In Guyana, small and medium scale enterprises are playing a foundational role in transforming the country’s economic landscape.
At the Annual General Meeting, behind closed doors, a 21-member council was elected. It is now expected that within days a new President will be appointed in addition to other executives. The laws governing the Chamber do not allow for an individual to serve more than two terms as President.