Government committed to tackling bottlenecks affecting business community


-President Ramotar at Chambers of Commerce meeting in Berbice
PRESIDENT Donald Ramotar yesterday joined members of the Chambers of Commerce in Berbice at its annual meeting at Albion, Region Six. He was accompanied by Ministers Ashni Singh, Robeson Benn, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy and Irfaan Ali.
The meeting presented the forum for members of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association (BCCDA), Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCI) and the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce (CCCC) to bring to the fore, matters that are affecting the business community as well as make recommendations on the way forward.
Some of the problems raised include the need for fire hydrants, streetlights, modern sporting facilities, improved security arrangements at the Guyana-Suriname border, and regularisation of the backtrack route among others.
President Ramotar assured members of the Chambers of his government’s commitment to doing all that is required to eliminate the bottlenecks that are hindering the development of the business community in the region.
He pointed out that business in Guyana is being done in the face of very challenging international circumstances, alluding to the economic turmoil being experienced in countries such as Spain, Portugal, Greece and other parts of Europe.
These unstable economic situations in these countries, which are Guyana’s main trading avenues, have consequences for the local economy and the 36 percent EU price cut that the sugar industry has and continues to suffer from, stands as testimony to this.
The Head of State explained that the industry is currently in the process of reorganisation and retooling, a task to which the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C ) administration remains committed, recognising the importance of the industry to Guyana’s economy.
“This challenging situation means therefore that we have to be more efficient and more focus on many of the things that we do to maximize our benefits here…Government has been working hard to try to create the necessary enabling conditions to make doing business in Guyana easier,” the President said.
To this end, the administration’s entire social programme is designed to boost the business sector; creating jobs and generating wealth, while at the same time improving the services offered, the President explained.
He aid this is being done through heavy investments in the education sector with the aim of improving the quality of workers in Guyana which will in turn redound to the benefits of the business sector.
Focus is also being placed on issues such as taxation; this saw the reduction of the corporation tax in 2011 which enabled many companies to retool.
President Ramotar said that businesses have to take full advantage of the benefits that accrue from the use of cutting edge technology in order to overcome many of the challenges and made reference to Government’s investment in Information Communication Technology (ICT).
“We have to ensure that every Guyanese know how to use the computer, this is central to the economy as we go forward into the future…this is a new area that cannot be ignored; the more people become familiar with new technologies the better it would be for businesses as well as our country,” he posited.
The Head of State also spoke of the vibrancy of the mining sector in Guyana; making reference to the new mining enterprises such as the manganese operation in the North West District, Region One. Over the past two years, mining has been the leading contributor to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Guyana.
With regards to agriculture, the President said that the possibilities in the sector are endless and spoke of the prospects of bio-fuel owing to high fuel prices.
“In Guyana we have the opportunity to not only secure our own food supply but also to earn a lot of money in the production of food,” he said.
The President also emphasised the need for stronger business ties with neighbouring Brazil, which only two weeks ago was named the fifth largest economy in the world, surpassing the United Kingdom (UK).
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Ramesh Dookhoo in his remarks said that Guyana has made significant economic progress over the years as a result of sound policies and increased efforts of a vibrant, growing private sector.
In Berbice, the private sector is rapidly expanding owing to an increasing number of business establishments.
Dookhoo posited that: “We now have to look at the capacities of government agencies, regulatory bodies, and other institutions to accommodate the growth that is taking place in Berbice. If Guyana is the bread-basket of the Caribbean, then it equally can be said that Berbice is bread-basket of Guyana; this region hold some of the most fertile agricultural lands  in the country and with the advent of the Berbice Bridge, our farmers have greater access to Georgetown and internationally.”
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman, Region Six, David Armogan in his remarks made specific reference to the expansion in the housing sector as a result of more lands being developed. This in turn, has given way for the construction sector to take off.
Much was said about the No.63 Beach, which is touted as one of the main tourist attractions in the Region and plans are on stream which are being spearheaded by acting Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Irfaan Ali.
Armogan also spoke of the partnerships between the regional administration and non-governmental organisations in tackling social ills such as domestic violence and abuse.(GINA)