To make Guyana more business-friendly, Finance Minister, Winston Jordan during his 2016 Budget presentation this afternoon in the National Assembly detailed a number of steps which will see Government offering more support to private businesses. He said Government intends to cut the bureaucratic red tape and make official procedures easier to navigate.
Excerpts from Minister Jordan’s Budget presentation
We will seek financing to implement the Single Window Automated Processing System (SWAPS). When established, the SWAPS will link licensing bodies to the Custom and Trade Administration to facilitate the sharing of information and to enhance the efficiency with which trade transactions are carried out.
These improved procedures will not only reduce the amount of time that private businesses spend mired in paperwork, but also increase government accountability, reduce corruption, and make data and information more accessible. The Ministry of Business is also establishing a Help Desk for businesses, which will act as a single point of contact for information and advice for businesses, traders, and the Government.
While consumers and large businesses can access loans, small businesses commonly face a financing gap. Our Government, in 2016, intends to further reduce bottlenecks in accessing finance through the implementation of the Micro and Small Enterprise Development (MSED) initiative. To build both generic and sector specific skills, training opportunities for entrepreneurs will be expanded to cover all ten administrative regions, with special emphasis on business operators in the mining and forestry sectors. This year, 400 entrepreneurs will be targeted to benefit from training.
As a small economy, we must work to enhance our brand and visibility as an investment destination. GO-Invest is working to improve agency websites and develop partnerships with other investment promotion agencies worldwide. In 2016, GO-Invest will increase its engagements with the diaspora to re-invest at home. Publicizing Guyana’s unique advantages will attract new and diverse industries. In 2015, GO-Invest facilitated 148 projects across 7 economic sectors, namely, agriculture, light manufacturing, tourism, services, forestry, information and communication technology and energy. The potential value of investment facilitated amounted to $89.3 billion, while the total potential jobs numbered about 8,400. GO-Invest also facilitated 44 Foreign Direct Investments. In 2016, the agency hopes to facilitate 160 new investments worth a total of $11 billion.
Another challenge that investors in Guyana face is finding adequate facilities with full utility services. Our Government is addressing this problem by upgrading and building industrial estates at Belvedere and Lethem will facilitate business ventures in such areas as light manufacturing, woodworking and fabrication, creating over 3,000 new jobs.