Crime woes trigger response from Guyanese business leaders
Escalating security woes across the country have triggered a Private Sector-led confab aimed at bringing together stakeholders for a security engagement, even as business leaders question the statistics being released by the Guyana Police Force, which points to a 21 per cent decrease in crime.
The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce (GCCI) will on Wednesday formally open its inaugural Security Forum and Expo, where, according to GCCI President Vishnu Doerga, an opportunity will be afforded to the several stakeholders to provide security proposals and solutions, including the tackling of cyber threats.
Speaking to the genesis of the security confab, GCCI Junior Vice President Nicholas Boyer, who also chairs the entity’s Security Sub-Committee, spoke of the fact that security provisions now take up a significant portion of a business’ operational expenses.
The seminar, he said, is an activity to demonstrate to companies, those who have solutions to make lives and businesses more secure.
GCCI President Doerga during a media engagement at the entity’s Waterloo Street, Georgetown, office on Thursday, spoke to the fact that security concerns rank high when it comes to potential investors making a decision to do business in Guyana.
He used the occasion to lament that Guyana still ranks as one of the more unattractive places for doing business internationally and security concerns did form a key element of any investment decision.
Doerga said it is for this very reason the GCCI was looking to showcase to its membership what options are available to them with respect to making themselves and the business environment a safer one.
He disclosed too that it is in this vein that the GCCI will continue to lobby the Administration to place a Value Added Tax (VAT) exemption of security apparatus to serve as an incentive to business people.
Doerga in making the pitch for VAT exemptions on security appliances pointed to the use of efficient Closed Circuit Televisions systems which have recently been aiding the Guyana Police Force more and more in the apprehension of, and prosecution of criminals – many of whom would have committed armed robberies on local businesses.
Meanwhile, on the matter of the recent reportage by the Guyana Police Force that crime was in fact down by 21 per cent, the GCCI representatives questioned the accuracy of this and also pointed to the fact that there is a big difference between released statistics and public perception.
Doerga told media operatives that members of the GCCI only recently met with officials in the public security spectra and the matter of the Police statistics was raised.
The situation, according to Doerga, is compounded by the fact that there is significant under reporting of criminal activities.
He said an objective analysis of the under reporting could not be had at this time since any such would only be a ‘guesstimate.’
Boyer said the GCCI was also unaware of the methods used by the Guyana Police Force to compile its statistics, and as such, could not give an informed opinion on its accuracy.
Doerga told media operatives that in many cases, it is possible to be assured and still fearful.
He pointed to members of the business community being presented with statistics pointing to a decrease in crime, only to be confronted with the news in the dailies – documenting incidents such as the recent robbery at a supermarket at Diamond Housing Scheme, East Bank Demerara.
Doerga said in his meetings with potential investors, among the concerns was the matter of security and the security of their investments.
On the matter of the Police’s response to crime locally, Doerga contended that there has been some positive movement.
“All of us would want this to happen much faster but this is the reality of what we’re dealing with,” said Doerga.
He said the GCCI is heartened by some of the positive movements witnessed, such as action being taken against rogue Police ranks.
Meanwhile, on the matter of the active participation of its membership with respect to exploring different security solutions including cyber threats, Doerga told reporters that “one can only lead a horse to water, we created the event and it’s up to them to take advantage.”
The GCCI’s inaugural Security Forum and Expo will be hosted throughout Friday at the Roraima Duke Lodge in Kingston, Georgetown.
The Chamber is of the view that security concerns continue to rank high as a barrier to investment, and in response to this, it has organised “this important event as a means of empowering business owners to be proactive in safeguarding themselves against criminal threats.”
The Chamber said it recognises the growing need for business owners to gain knowledge on security strategies, and has put together an impressive array of notable speakers, industry experts and security professionals who will deliver information packed presentations on the latest trends.
The Security Forum and Expo is slated to cover both traditional concerns in addition to cyber security.