“WE appreciate how important you are to the economy of Guyana and to the development of our country both now and in the future,” President Donald Ramotar stressed as he addressed the Ministry of Tourism Industry and Commerce’s first ever Grant Award and Partnership ceremony held at the Guyana International Centre (GICC). The Head of State explained that it has been noted worldwide while major businesses and investments are important and we continue to seek these types of businesses in our economy, “it has also been noted by many experts in the field that the sustainability of economic development and progress in any society is directly linked to the development of small businesses.” He hope many of the awardees that are being awarded grants would not stay small but they would have the potential to improve themselves to medium or even to large businesses.
“We also know that many big businesses of today in our country started out small, and therefore I anticipate that many of the small and medium scale enterprises, that we are awarding today and encouraging today, will not stay small forever, but many I hope will have the potential to go on to become large businesses within society,” he said.
“I am particularly happy about this programme as well, because in meeting with small-business owners in different parts of Guyana, one of the things that they generally confront me with is the issue of the high interest rates, that they have to pay, which sometimes is stifling them and hope that this project could help to be an answer to some of the problems that they face.”
The President encouraged persons to utilise this grant and also emphasised that Guyanese need to start supporting their local entities. “This is a good beginning and I hope that you all would move on to different levels,” the Head of State exhorted.
President Ramotar applauded the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for collaborating with the Tourism Ministry on this project, pointing out that it shows that it recogonises the potential of the sector, to further develop the country in the fight against poverty. He added that many of these initiatives are sometimes confined to the urban areas and subsequently urged the board and management of these types of projects to focus on the country in its entirety. The President noted that many businesses flounder because of the lack of resources, but with the implementation of this project many businesses can now prosper.
The President jovially recalled several recent visits to the interior, making reference to Aishalton, he explained that he was pleasantly surprised to have been able to eat in an established restaurant. He added that in our Rupununi, “being somewhat of an expert on peanut butter I can say that we produce one of the world’s best peanut butter.” He related that many more initiatives such as these are needed and there are many sectors that can be developed as a small business.
“When I see things like plantain chips being imported, I feel rather ashamed, when I see something like this happening, because I feel we have the possibility of leading in that regard, or should be one of the leaders in that regard, instead of importing these things” the Head of State emphasised. He went on to explain that when he travels to other countries it is customary that he indulge himself into their local cuisine and this should also happen here in Guyana. “Eating the local dishes and having them available to the tourists should be a must, we must be given a choice of the local foods on our menus”, he said.
He added with confirmation from the Tourism Minister (ag), Irfaan Ali that there are plans for the promotion of plantains in Leguan and Wakenaam. (Rebecca Ganesh-Ally)