…says takeover of Berbice Bridge does not augur well
Underscoring the importance of investments in Guyana, President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Deodat Indar has criticised Government’s recent takeover of the Berbice Bridge Company Incorporated (BCCI).
Speaking at the GCCI’s 129th Awards Presentation and Gala Dinner on Wednesday evening at the Marriott Hotel, the GCCI President noted that Government should ensure that the appropriate environment is created to facilitate investments in Guyana.
“Investments are also driven by the environment which it is executed in and the recent Government takeover of the Berbice Bridge doesn’t augur well for public-private partnership,” Indar asserted, adding that such actions by Government should only be a last resort, having explored all other options.
“Investments ought to be protected in Guyana in order for us to become a regional leader economically,” he noted.
Nevertheless, Indar posited that while the impending oil and gas sector is going to be bigger and more transformational than anything Guyana has ever experienced, he highlighted the importance of attracting investments in other fields.
“Before oil and gas in 2015, we had an economy, and when oil leaves, we should have an economy,” he asserted.
According to the GCCI President, Government should look to foster investments in areas such as medicine, infrastructure, security, education and development, and social systems.
Still, he recognised the drastic change Guyana is about to undergo after first oil.
Guyana is now home to the world’s biggest new deep water oil discovery and with principle explorer ExxonMobil pushing for the development of the oil reserves, production is scheduled to begin in early 2020 or perhaps late 2019.
In fact, only last week, the US oil giant announced its 10th discovery, reinforcing the country’s potential to be able to produce more than 750,000 barrels of oil daily by 2025.
With this in mind, however, the GCCI President is calling for the necessary frameworks to be put in place for an oil and gas industry. Among those he mentioned was for Government to fast-track the local content policy.
“We would like to see a signature on the second draft. Even if it’s not a perfect document… we can put a revision period to it so meanwhile, we will have a framework to go along with,” he stated.
On the other hand, referencing the economic projections for 2019 as outlined by Finance Minister Winston Jordan during his budget presentation last month, Indar posited that the 4.6 per cent economic growth is looking good for the economy.
However, he reminded his fellow Private Sector stakeholders that these rates usually fluctuate. “So there are some good news [in Budget 2019] and some not so good news,” he stated.
While he welcomed the Income and Corporate Tax rate reductions, the GCCI President went on to say, however, that the Private Sector would like to see reduction of commercial tax rates.
Furthermore, Indar also voiced concerns over the 9.9 per cent increase in taxation when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expanding by some four per cent.
“The Maths do not add up to me… You all will feel it when you write your cheques to the GRA (Guyana Revenue Authority) that you’re paying more,” he stated.