The 14th Berbice Expo and Trade Fair was declared opened at the Albion Sports Complex on Friday evening. The four-day event, which is being promoted by the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, ends on Monday and has more than 100 exhibits.
‘Advancing Economic Progress through Professional Standards and Entrepreneurship’ is the theme for this year’s Expo which has as its objective, the enhancement of economic growth for Berbice.
Business Minister Dominic Gaskin, in declaring the Expo open, said over the next 15 years, Guyana’s economic transformation will be guided by the Green State Development Strategy, which will be the blueprint for inclusive economic and social growth.
A key objective of the Green State Development Strategy is to reorient and diversify Guyana’s economy, reducing reliance on traditional sectors and opening up new sustainable income and investment opportunities.
He added that as Guyana develops, and new economic activities emerge, businesses must adapt to a new economic reality.
“Local businesses must build capacity to be competitive in an environment that will see increased competition from both local and foreign companies. This requires emphasis on improvement of business processes, adoption of industry best practices, transparency and accountability, and socially and environmentally responsible behaviour, among others.”
Gaskin said the petroleum sector will drive rapid growth while the Green State Development Strategy will channel this growth across all sectors of Guyana’s economy. Businesses must therefore position itself to maximise opportunities that will arise, not only from direct participation in the petroleum sector, but from spinoff demand in many other sectors that will follow.
Meanwhile, President of the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce, Poonai Bhigroog, also speaking at the opening, noted that more respect needs to be given to the region’s farmers.
Noting that Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) is an agriculture-based region, Poonai said there is need to raise standards in how agriculture is practiced so that farmers can make maximum use of technology to improve and increase productivity.
The Chamber President added that with the closure of several sugar estates, the ripple effects are far and wide. He said the fishing industry continues to be a high risk one as a result of many acts of piracy committed over the years; retail business, market vendors and other sectors are seeing a decline in sales causing several businesses to either close their doors or reduce staffing.
“As Guyana becomes an emerging oil and gas producer, several measures will have to be put in place to safeguard and develop new business strategies to preserve our local businesses. Opportunities will abound, but to capitalise on these opportunities, businesses will have to focus on capacity building and improve on developing our work force to reach higher standards. Entrepreneurs will have to start to invest with confidence in our country’s growing economy, more jobs will be created, and disposable income will increase,” the Chamber President said.