Competitive barriers stifling Guyana’s potential to grow – GCCI

Barriers to competitiveness are impeding Guyana’s economy from doubling its current growth rate of five percent and private sector companies’ abilities of competing in the global marketplace, says Clinton Urling, President of Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

He made those assertions at the launch of GCCI’s “Competitiveness Manifesto- Top 20 Barriers to Guyana’s Competitiveness” at the entity’s boardroom yesterday.

The Competitiveness Manifesto, in random order, listed 20 barriers to competitiveness in Guyana. The document includes calls for the urgent commencement of the Public Procurement Commission (PPC) and the inclusion of Private Sector concessions to the mandate of the PPC; ensuring political and economic stability; improving the tax system; implementing comprehensive security sector reform; establishing a development bank; resolving Guyana’s skills challenge; making Guyana a magnet for Foreign Direct Investment; building a globally competitive manufacturing sector; and accelerating the implementation of the National Competitiveness Strategy.

According to Urling, Guyana’s economy has been experiencing positive growth due to prudent management of the economy by government over the past seven years, with members of GCCI doing well financially, but there is always room for improvement.

“If we were to remove these barriers we could probably move away from a five percent growth to possibly a seven, eight or 10 percent growth.”

He said that in Guyana, where the population is between 700,000 and 750,000 people, the domestic market is insufficient and firms need to look at the global marketplace for businesses to be competitive.

As such, for small and large businesses to be competitive, GCCI believes that Government, Opposition and stakeholders, particularly the electorate, need to ensure that these barriers are removed. Urling maintained that the GCCI is only an advocacy body, and cannot force Government to implement anything.

He related that Government, as the Executive body, is to a large extent responsible for removal of the barriers and the Legislature which is dominated by the Opposition could advocate for resources for the benefit of the private sector.

In explaining the Opposition’s role in helping private companies to grow, Urling said that in light of GCCI appealing for the strengthening of foreign economic diplomacy through the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Opposition could request Government to increase the budgetary allocation under that Ministry to help market Guyana, while enhancing diplomatic ties.

According to Urling, Guyana is a transitioning economy on a trajectory of growth that will continue as long as companies compete. He made it clear that Government does not compete.

It was noted that information obtained for the Competitiveness Manifesto was contributed by members of GCCI over a period of time. In addition, academia – including the Universities of Guyana and the West Indies – assisted in reviewing the constraints of Guyana’s competitiveness.

He noted that the Competitiveness Manifesto is the first phase in highlighting the barriers. The next phase will be looking at specific recommendations for those barriers.

According to Urling, GCCI would support any initiative that removes barriers to encourage an environment for businesses to strive and succeed and the attraction of much needed Foreign Direct Investment.

Urling believes that the Private Sector Commission needs to be more vocal to Government and other stakeholders for the reduction of these barriers, diversification of the economy and transparency and accountability.

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