Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan expressed satisfaction with the pace and tone of ongoing 2019 National Budget consultations. The minister and his budget team met with the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA).
In an invited comment following the third day of consultations, the economist said he was encouraged by the positive attitude of the private sector.
“For the first time, I’ve seen the PSC actually stating that they’re prepared to do certain things publicly to support us, particularly in the area of local content… That is a real positive development.”
The Finance Minister added that the discussions with both the PSC and the GMSA are indicative of “a meeting of minds”.
“There is a bigger willingness on the part of the private sector to engage with the government and we have stressed this public-private partnership, in a number of ways with the Private Sector Commission.”
Minister Jordan revealed that the ministry has worked continuously with the GMSA.
“This is the only body we have roundtable meetings with. It has worked very well for them. They have gotten quite a few benefits. I’m looking to see more benefits for them during the upcoming budget. Some of them we will work with, some of them we perhaps have to amend.”
The minister indicated that he left both meetings, feeling extremely positive going forward to the 2019 Budget.
The day’s consultations began with presentations from the PSC, led by Chairman Desmond Sears. He said that a priority was the formulation of local content policy. “We are asking the minister to maybe speak to the Minister of Business to accelerate the process. You can always change an evolving policy, make changes as you go down the road. We would want before 2019, especially before oil production a local content policy which would more or less set the stage for locals to participate.”
Sears added that the PSC is not only prepared to form partnerships but could also supply the downstream activities of oil and gas. “So even though you might not have the skill to work on a boat offshore, there are a lot of activities onshore that we could participate in, build our skill and service levels; and that is what we intend to do but there must be some facilitation in terms of what we call local content,’’ Sears said.
The GSMA’s consultations followed with executives making cases for tax relief in several sectors and expanding the tax net in several others. There were also requests for revised legislation and the need for the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to monitor overseas companies for the possible dumping of cheaper products which would be detrimental to local manufacturers.
Budget 2019 consultations continue on September 12 at the Finance Ministry’s boardroom from 14:00h.