PSC Chair welcomes CDB’s commitment to enhance access to financing

( PRESIDENT of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith, on Thursday underscored the role of the private sector when he said:

“A number of governors alluded to the important role of the private sector in creating employment opportunities and in complementing public sector investment in infrastructure… And CDB will continue to strengthen its internal capacity for private sector financing as well as capacity within the BMCs (Borrowing Member Countries).”

Making these statements at last Thursday’s closing session of the 44th Annual Meeting of the CDB Board of Governors, held at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC), Dr. Smith said the CDB has been exploring new and different avenues to reach the private sector in the BMCs, and is in the process of revising its private sector policy and strategy to support new initiatives in private sector development and operations.

Ramesh Persaud

“Having strengthened its risk management framework, CDB now sees an opportunity to engage more directly with the private sector:- by working with other institutions like the International Finance Corporation in order to expand its private sector portfolio,” Dr. Smith disclosed.

Chair of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Mr. Ramesh Persaud, in an exclusive interview with the Guyana Chronicle, welcomed Dr. Smith’s expressed position, and said: “On behalf of the Private Sector, I welcome the CDB President’s comments on plans to enhance the private sector division of the bank.

“Capital is an important element to sustain the growth of the Private Sector, and any product developed by the CDB to enhance access of the private sector to funds for the development of industries will be most welcomed.”

Persaud said Dr. Smith’s comments on the role of the private sector in creating employment opportunities and complementing public sector investment in infrastructure should never be underrated.

He said: “I endorse those positions fully. The Private Sector in Guyana has proven to be the engine of economic growth in Guyana since the economy was open up in the late 1980s. We must not forget that Guyana once experimented with Cooperative Socialism, where the State controlled the ‘commanding heights’ of the economy; and that model was proven to be a complete failure, resulting in tremendous hardships for our people.”

The PSC Chair called on the current administration to continue building on the model of free market and provide the enabling environment to ensure that the private sector can continue to grow and provide jobs.

He added that there are “formidable indicators” that small businesses in the private sector are making significant contributions to the development of our economy.

Persaud said: “The darlings of our economic growth are the gold, rice, construction and transportation sectors. These four sectors alone accounted for a growth of 4.6 per cent in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) out of a total growth of 5.2 per cent.

“When you look at the composition of these sectors, you will find that they are made up of mostly micro and small scale enterprises.
The gold industry has approximately 5,000 small scale dredge owners, with over 6,000 registered dredges employing directly approximately 30,000 persons in total. That is six jobs per small scale investor in that sector.

The rice industry has approximately 7,000 farmers, each employing an average of four persons directly. The construction sector has a similar situation, with more than 5,000 small contractors having teams that average five persons.

“Let us not forget also the more than 10,000 taxis on our roadways, with more than 80 per cent of them being owner-driven. IPED (Institute of Private Enterprise Development), the prominent financier to micro and small entrepreneurs, has over 4,500 clients employing an average of three persons each.”

The PSC Chair made it clear that the role of the private sector of any nation in contributing to economic development is quintessential, and expressions of support are encouraging.

In 2013 Guyana recorded an average five per cent growth in the economy, the highest in the Caribbean Region.

(By Vanessa Narine)