Manufacturing body joins calls for end to “current political uncertainty and unease”

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IDB representative Sophie Makonnen and President of the GMSA, Shyam Nokta

The Guyana Marketing and Services Association (GMSA) has joined the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) and other Private Sector bodies, calling for an end to the political turmoil since the passage of the No-confidence Motion, asserting that it has played a negative role in the business sector.

These sentiments were shared by President of the GMSA, Shyam Nokta, during his address at the Association’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday at the Marriott Hotel.

“In recent weeks, we have heard concerns expressed by leading Private Sector institutions – the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Private Sector Commission as the umbrella body – as it regards to investor confidence and a decline in commercial activity, while calling for adherence to the Constitution of Guyana. The GMSA’s wish is to align with these views and to also share the perspective that there should not be a prolonging of the current uncertainty and unease… What is most critical is a stable political environment and one which is conducive for doing business,” he asserted.

A section of the audience

The passage of the December 21, 2018 motion saw the toppling of the coalition Government after receiving a 33 majority vote, as a result of former AFC MP Charrandas Persaud defecting in a vote of conscience in favour of the motion.

It has been over 65 days since the resolution was carried and no move has been made by the Government to have elections held within the constitutionally mandated 90 days.

Meanwhile, Nokta was also at the time presenting on sections of his annual report which played a critical role in the manufacturing and services sector. It was noted that there has been a decline in the performance of traditional sectors, nothing that the tendency has not ceased nor declined. This trend, he says, is owing to the diminishing rice and sugar industry – which were once Guyana’s chief harvests.

“The performance in many of our traditional sectors has been showing signs of decline. When we look at the midyear report from the Ministry of Finance, it alludes to this. At present, there are indications that this trend has neither slowed nor reversed. Some of this can also be held true for the manufacturing sector as well, which contracted during the first half of 2018 by about 2.4 per cent when compared to the 9.9 per cent growth that we had for the same period in 2017, much of this primarily to the decline in rice and sugar sector,” the GMSA President stated.

Regardless of this, the manufacturing sector contributes between six to eight per cent of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

He said one of the main challenges continued to be the high cost of energy, in addition to its reliability that has caused many manufacturers to self-generate their own power. It was mentioned that efforts were initiated to have a tax relief on fuel for these producers.

Delivering her remarks, IDB representative Sophie Makonnen gave an insight of economic diversification ideas which Guyana can embark on, while embracing technology and innovation. According to her, these are some of the important factors in building a resilient economy.

“Competitiveness and economic diversification are essential to building a resilient economy, capable of resisting price or production related shock. We have seen this in Guyana to some extent in 2017, when the mining sector fell by almost nine per cent,” Makonnen explained.

She added, “Further development of more economic sectors can strengthen economic resilience and allow the country to face and adapt to changing global trends in price, technology and politics.”

As customary, Guyana’s booming oil sectors was also discussed. But the IDB representative sought to point out that while this will impact the economy, provisions must be made for other sectors to be strengthened by enhancing policies, since oil is not a lifetime resource.

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