Guyana’s digital economic challenge
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Dear Editor,
I, NEITHER an APNU nor PPP voter, just want the best for our nation regardless of the government in power – I am non-aligned. Some may be apt to consider this discourse to be a criticism; however, the intent is to elevate the discussion and accelerate change. There is a big difference between secrecy and privacy and we Guyanese should demand less of secrecy.
There is not enough space to elucidate our digital opportunities, so I will reserve some for another audience as I enjoy the cool breeze of the Atlantic and Demerara River estuary. My focus is on the 90 percent of Guyanese and not the 10 percent like myself, a simple discourse. Guyana’s gap in the global digital economy is enormous; however, there is a silver lining if we seize it. Guyana is approximately 20 years behind the rest of the world in technology adaptation — and I am being conservative.

The technology acronyms of “AI – artificial intelligence”, “Block Chain – Security”, “Big Data – Data integration” , “IoT – connectivity”, Connected retail, “Cloud – storage and usage”, “RFID – tracking”, “Mobile Money” are major technology developments in the rest of the world and Guyana’s 10 percent. The other 90 percent of Guyanese don’t need to know how it works, but should see the benefits. My concerns are we continue to be left behind, since technology is an afterthought in our central planning – most think of broadband/phone as the primary objective.
Yes, some of this was caused by our limited financial resources over the years; however, much has been driven by poor planning and execution. Government doesn’t have to do everything, but create the environment that fosters change, innovation and competitiveness. Blunt honesty follows!

We get an ‘F’ for Backoffice automation — both private and public — ledger books, carbon copies, police notepad, and physical files are a thing of the past. This is a major source of our nation’s inefficiency and corruption because of no electronic or forensic footprint!
We get a ‘D’ for electronic payments, electronic billing, debit/card acceptance, etc. We are way behind. We can buy at Courts/Massy using a bank card; however, some of our well-established Guyanese institutions are cash or managers’ cheques only, Gafoors, Toolsie, Kissoon, National Hardware, etc. They have been around for decades and still function as though we are in the 70s in payment acceptance.

Not unusual at most gas stations typically run by two people worldwide because of automation, we have an army of six to eight or more to service gas. Unfortunately, my dad don’t have to go to the post office each month to collect his Old Age Pension, he is dead. GuySuCo did not have its challenges because of lost subsidy only, automation and inefficacies caused it.
Grade ‘F’ for tax and fees collection by ministries, GRA, NIS and others are abysmal (manual option), bring cash only. My summation is, we pay 14 percent VAT because of the inefficiencies and non-compliance by a vast portion of the population. Automation can push down VAT by five percent or more based on recent assessment, it pays for itself. Our recent effort of house-to-house distribution of “Cash 25k” is a glaring example; we need electronic systems.

Grade ‘F’ for Internet availability and voter registration nationwide needs out-of-the-box thinking, else we will be faced with this ongoing dilemma. There are many options to automate these processes. No more house-to-house, this should be a one-time event at best, not every five years.
Ladies and gentlemen, the world in Guyana is not what it appears to be; yes, we enjoy a simple life here, but it’s a global community we need to compete in; if you have any doubts, COVID-19 reminded us.
Yours sincerely,
Everton Morris
Technology & Management Executive
Re-Migrant

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