MINISTER of Business Dominic Gaskin has said that lack of innovation in business is a major constraint affecting the growth and development of the manufacturing sector.According to Gaskin, while the cost of energy is touted as a deterrent, a significant lowering of energy cost might not necessarily result in a boom in the manufacturing sector. He told the Guyana Chronicle that targeted policies are needed to guide the development of the sector, pointed that an absence in this regard has resulted in the sector taking a back seat.
“We have to find out why investors are shying away from manufacturing. If persons are going into retail and not manufacturing, it tells me that the profits in the retail sector are more attractive than in the manufacturing sector. I believe that manufacturing has been on the decline in Guyana for some time now, and I think it has to do with failure at the policy-making level to understand the various sectors,” Gaskin contended.
He added: “Manufacturing is very broad and every single sector has its own set of peculiarities and needs its own solutions and I think we need to really drill down at the level of the individual sectors to find out what is hampering the development of each individual sector. Broad polices are not going to solve the problems of the individual sectors; we need to figure out why certain sectors are not developing.” Gaskin said the ministry is aware of the challenges facing the manufacturing sector and will have to finds ways of addressing. These shortcomings, he said cannot continue for another 50 years with Guyana still not having a well-developed manufacturing industry.
Not the only solution
Lowering energy cost, he said, is not the only solution.
“I think manufacturing does need cheaper energy, all businesses need cheaper energy… affordable energy is important; however, I believe that we have to remove that as an excuse for our non-performing industry. I don’t believe if we have energy at a quarter of the cost we currently supply that our manufacturing industry is going to take off. I think that there are other problems that are preventing manufacturing from developing in Guyana and those problems need to be addressed.”
On that score, Gaskin said there is need for more innovation, pointing out that generally Guyana is not known as a producer of innovative technology, business solutions or innovative products on the markets. “I think that there is room for us to promote innovation in business and in industries. Development will come about through long-term policies that identify national priorities and are guided by national strategies. If you approach things like that in a more structured way, you will get the way you want to go,” he said.
Meanwhile, in recognition of the important role that the private sector needs to play in the achievement of sustained economic growth and poverty reduction in Guyana, the Ministry of Business has committed to engaging the private sector meaningfully and regularly.
Already, there have been engagements with the Private Sector Commission (PSC), representatives from the various chambers of commerce countrywide, and numerous members of the business and investment community, Gaskin said.
He noted that continued engagements will develop within the Ministry of Business a better understanding of the many concerns of businesses operating in Guyana or hoping to operate in Guyana. “We are taking on board, evaluations of projects previously implemented by this ministry that private-public dialogue can benefit from having a formal and institutionalised structure,” he said. In addition, the Ministry of Business will establish a Help Desk which would aim to provide tailored advice and support to traders and businesses. It is anticipated that, through this desk, more entrepreneurs, businesses and investors would be assisted, thus providing an impetus for increased economic activities.
By Tajeram Mohabir