…says Bill should be amended with the constitutional rights of citizens in mind
The Private Sector Commission (PSC) said it hosted a meeting with a wide cross-section of members of the business community on Monday February 13, 2017 to discuss issues which are having a serious impact on the survival and growth of businesses in a declining economy.
Among the topics discussed were the State Asset Recovery Agency (SARA) Bill, Parking Meter Contract, the Rule of Law, and the State of the Economy.
According to the PSC “while the consensus of businesses is that there is a need for unlawfully appropriated assets of the State to be recovered, it was felt that the SARA Bill provides too much unchecked power to the Agency. The Director of SARA supersedes the Courts, the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner General of GRA.”
Moreover, the PSC noted that the Bill will impede business progress as it allows for harassment and political victimization of legitimate businesses. “The Bill allows staff of the Agency to arbitrarily look at private accounts and financial information of citizens without due process. This Bill should be recalled and amended to be consistent with the constitutional rights of citizens.”
Parking Meters COI
The PSC said that members of the business community present at the meeting are demanding that a Commission of Inquiry (COI) be set up to investigate the fiasco of the Parking Meters.
“It must be determined whether there are statutes in place to allow the M&CC to unilaterally enter into an agreement with Smart City Solutions (SCS). In addition there should be clarity as to the feasibility studies done, the nature of accountability for the revenues, the role of Government in each stage of the project, the tendering and approval process, and the extent of a legal review of the contract. Given the obscurity of the process, the consensus was that the contract be rescinded in its entirety.”
Separation of Powers
Allegations of political involvement in the judicial system were noted with great concern said the PSC.
According to the PSC “there must be a separation of the Government and the Judicial System and Government must ensure full autonomy and adequate financial resources for a properly functioning system.”
The Body said further that there is need for judges to be appointed at all levels especially at the Court of Appeal and the High Court, while adding that the presence of one Commercial Judge to handle the thousands of cases annually is inadequate. “This needs to be addressed” said the PSC.
Participants, the PSC informed, also noted the decline of the economy. Some of the concerns reportedly raised are the “crippling new taxes” for the mining sector and the institution of Value Added Tax (VAT) on necessities.
“The members of the business community present expressed a lack of confidence in the manner the Government is managing the economy” the PSC outlined.
According to the Private Sector Commission, this lack of confidence is reflected in the flight of capital from Guyana and the lack of significant new investments in the last (two) 2 years.
“Real estate values are dwindling, property for sale inventory is on the rise and wealth is eroding rapidly. We would like to see Government create the enabling environment and engage the business community much more so that together we can facilitate the creation of employment opportunities, have wage growth and put in measures to increase wealth of all Guyanese” the PSC remarked.
The Body is of the view that “Guyana cannot continue to improve and sustain growth, if investors’ confidence continues to be eroded. The trajectory in which the country is heading at the moment does not inspire such confidence.”