– President lauds exhibitors
THE highly anticipated GuyExpo 2011 was ushered in last evening amidst sparkles and splendor, as thousands gathered at the Sophia Exhibition Site for the grand opening ceremony. ‘Enhancing Growth through Competitiveness’ was the banner under which local businesses grasped the opportunity to display their innovations, products and services with the implicit aim of creating linkages and networking.
GuyExpo is now 16 years in operation and provides a platform for stakeholders in the business sector to interact with other sections of society.
Over 200 arts and craft producers from Georgetown, the Rupununi and riverain areas will be among those exhibiting their produce at the four-day event.
Outside of the hemisphere are a delegation of 70 from neighbouring Suriname and 45 through the Brazilian Micro and Small Business Development Organisation (SEBREA).
Joining the visitors on the propitious occasion were President Bharrat Jagdeo; Prime Minister Samuel Hinds; Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Manniram Prashad; PPP/C Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar; Surinamese Vice President, Robert Ameerali; senior Government officials, along with members of the diplomatic corps.
The Head of State , in his remarks, expressed the hope that the exposition and trade fair grow in strength, fulfilling a promise that “started off as a small spark and today has grown into a bright burning fire.”
“Exhibitors are growing in the range of products and I want to thank them particularly for the support they have given to this exposition. They have done an enormous job,” President Jagdeo said.
The cadre of participants also includes personnel from the culinary arts who will be preparing local and international cuisines through a collaborative effort of the Carnegie School of Home Economics and the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce.
In the midst of applause, President Jagdeo described the GuyExpo exhibitors as the “real heroes” who are contributing to the creation of value and jobs. The organizing committee led by Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad and the private sector were also lauded.
“I hope that next year you all will come to a bigger and better GuyExpo and our country will continue to march forward,” President Jagdeo said before declaring the event open.
The bulk of President Jagdeo’s speech however focused on Guyana’s path to development over the last five years and his prospects for the future after he demits office this year.
“I’m confident that this country will be led by a President who is grounded, who is captured by a far reaching vision, who believes sincerely in people and who will continue to lead Guyana to that brighter future,” President Jagdeo said.
He made reference to five consecutive years of solid economic growth using per capita income, national reserves, corporate tax, private sector liquidity, exchange rate as some of the main indicators.
He then pointed to the symptomatic changes in the physical environment pointing to the Berbice River and Takutu bridges, the Ogle International Airport, Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC) the Guyana National Stadium at Providence, newly refurbished schools and hospitals.
The Head of State credited much of the progress he listed to the task at the early stages by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration to address the debt situation.
“The foundational work of the 1990s and the first five years of the 21st century created the Guyana that is visible today; getting our debt under control at the turn of the century, graduating from dependence on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) a few years later,” President Jagdeo said.
The last five years, President Jagdeo also believes, were spent laying the foundation for the future of hydro and solar power energy, liberialised telecommunications driven by high speed infrastructure and a laptop in the home of every Guyanese family.
“Being one of the highest growth economies in the Caribbean for the past five years is satisfying but, we are now emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in South America,” President Jagdeo said.
He believes nevertheless that Guyanese should maintain the outward look and take advantage of the potential in Guyana to supply the world with the raw materials that are in high demand.
Meanwhile, in his address, Minister Prashad pointed out that the 12th GuyExpo is occurring at a critical juncture, when Guyana is undergoing and experiencing a major transformation.
According to him, over the years, there has been an increase in investment, in production (agriculture, mining, manufacturing, forestry), in tourism, expansion in services, and massive investment in infrastructure.
“I am optimistic that this trend and momentum will continue given your participation, networking, partnership and potential investment here at GuyExpo and in Guyana,” he stated.
He noted that, this year’s Exposition, held under the theme, “Enhancing Growth through Competitiveness’ shows that growth areas are evident, ripe and ready to be enhanced.
Such augmentation of growth, he said, can fully be facilitated by the application of a result-reoriented competiveness programme.
Minister Prashad explained that GuyExpo has grown from an exhibition of the monoculture, primary production economy to an event that showcases value added manufacturing processes.
As to the nature of this evolution, he said, “The evolution and growth of our thriving services sector with information communication technology taking centre stage, and a growing small business sector are all achievements being facilitated by government programmes designed to grow the private sector and sustain bold, innovative entrepreneurship.”
The Tourism Minister lauded the efforts of His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo, towards ensuring the continued success of GuyExpo, which has become the Caribbean’s premier trade show, and a world class event.
“Sir, at this your final GuyExpo as Guyana’s Head of State, I salute you for your invaluable leadership to the planning and organizing of GuyExpo over the years as well as for taking time from your demanding schedule to visit and interact with exhibitors and patrons on several occasions,” the tourism minister lauded.
The growth, improved service and elevation of GuyExpo to a world class trade show are all testimony of President Jagdeo’s consistent support and readiness to all involved in the planning and implementation of the “mammoth event”, he added.
Meanwhile, the visiting Prime Minister of Suriname, Robert Ameerali, in his remarks said GuyExpo can be viewed as an important event, particularly for entrepreneurship in Guyana.
He pointed out that the presence of the Surinamese delegation at the event signals a desire for strengthened ties between Guyana and Suriname.
Vice President Ameerali said, “We are here and we want to see Suriname and Guyana as one body in CARICOM exploring opportunities…”
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo congratulated Minister Prashad and the GuyExpo team for their successful coordination of the event, which showcases the efforts of local companies towards growing the economy, particularly the local craft producers.
In explaining, he said, “The Caribbean Export Development Agency has stated that Guyana’s craft producers are among the best in the Caribbean and they must be congratulated for this.”
According to Dookhoo, he is “heartened” by the emphasis being placed this year on showcasing local goods, which he said, is a step in the right direction.
“We have quite enough of our own excellent products to showcase,” he stressed.
Alluding to GuyExpo’s 2011 theme, the private Sector Chairman said, “This is a very apt banner, as Guyana’s competitiveness continues to be boosted through the partnership established by the government in 2006. It resonates particularly with the Private Sector Commission as the Government’s partner in the implementation of our National Competitiveness Strategy.
The crowd was regaled with a cultural presentation and spectacular fireworks display after the opening ceremony, which signaled the official commencement of the four day event running from September 29 – October 2.
GuyExpo has been lauded as the longest sustained exhibition in the Caribbean, attracting over 300 local and international exhibitors, as well as foreign buyers and investors from the Caribbean, Latin America, South America, Europe and North America.