With crime currently a serious concern, President Dr Irfaan Ali has revealed that the Government is in the process of crafting a robust anti-crime strategy that will safeguard the interests of both citizens and the Private Sector.
The President made these remarks during an address at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s 13th Annual General Meeting (AGM). Further, it was revealed that the Government was also aiming to craft a National Trade Policy.
“We recognise the harmful effects of crime on businesses and we are formulating a robust anti-crime strategy to better protect businesses, communities, and citizens,” the President said during his virtual speech.
“As we boost local competitiveness, we are also seeking expanded and new markets for local goods and services. Your Government is unlocking increased market access. We are crafting a National Trade Policy to support competitiveness and diversification through the dismantling of barriers to trade and competition,” the President said.
According to the Head of State, Government will be supporting the Private Sector, including in the removal of excessive red tape hampering businesses and in expediting the processing of building permits and plans at the level of City Hall. To this end, he said that he has had discussions with Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Singh.
Going into the realm of agriculture, the President pointed out that Government was already working on an aquaculture project that could triple Guyana’s production of ‘swamp shrimp’, which he noted is loved in the Diaspora and represented a potential big market opportunity.
Ali also noted that the Government would be supporting local investment in shore-based facilities. He urged the Private Sector to be innovative.
“We have to start thinking outside of the box. In five years’ time, before five years, we will have the most competitive energy cost in the Region, we’ll have one of the most highly skilled and educated workforces, we’ll have great health-care services, we’ll have great educational services, we will have better infrastructure,” he said.
“We will have one of the most aggressive housing programmes regionally. Already, we have thousands of persons employed in the housing development that is taking place. We will have one of the largest infrastructure portfolios, ongoing portfolio, in the Region,” Dr Ali said.
But the President had some words of warning too. According to him, the Government will facilitate, but will not “babysit” the Private Sector. He also explained that the Government would be bringing laws that would protect consumers.
“The consumer is at the heart of business; without consumers, business would flop. We, the Government, will implement a raft of measures aimed at protecting consumers from unscrupulous practices, including unfair dispossession by hire purchasers.
“Government will support Private Sector development but it will not babysit the Private Sector. Government will work to set the framework for fair competition, but it will not deploy overtly protectionist measures,” President Ali said.
Dr Ali has made it a mission to market Guyana as an investment hub. He called Guyana the “sleeping giant for investment” at the recent opening of the Guyana Basin Summit 2021 (GBS) – an event aimed at creating investment and development opportunities in the Guyana-Suriname Basin, and bringing together oil and gas leaders and the global energy community, which was held virtually on March 17-19, before a physical conference is held in Georgetown in October.
The President said that the major catalyst for industrialisation will be the planned gas-to-shore energy project. He further noted that this would afford the economy the opportunity to have an enhanced manufacturing sector, and allow Guyana to become an industrial powerhouse, a model energy State, the breadbasket of the Region, the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean, and a sustainable tourism paradise.
Guyana’s representatives at the summit also included Senior Minister with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat; Public Works Ministers Juan Edghill and Deodat Indar; Bank of Guyana Governor, Dr Gobind Ganga, GO-Invest Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Peter Ramsaroop, and Guyana Energy Agency CEO, Dr Mahender Sharma.