By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – While the drop in gold prices, poor returns on sugar from GUYSUCO and the exit of the US air carrier Delta Airlines were three significantly adverse developments, they all took a back seat to the incessant political rivalry that has effectively seen initiatives and institutions good for the country’s development not being implemented and/or established.
This is according to President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Clinton Urling during a recent interview with the media.
The GCCI President contends that both sides of the political divide failed to reach out and compromise on the development and execution of initiatives that would benefit the country’s economy and make it easier for the private sector to operate.
“Cuts in funding for various infrastructural projects, the non-support for the Amaila Falls Hydro Project and anti-money laundering legislation, the failure to establish institutions for improving transparency and accountability in public business and the inability to mitigate current public perceptions of corruption are just a few of the most significant causalities in the current political standoff,” Urling said.
The GCCI President is of the view that political rivalry, high electricity costs, and lack of a clear strategic policy on diversification are the three most worrisome issues going forward into 2014.
“On the latter, we have to move away from the sector-focused monoculture currently dominated by commodities and primary agriculture and toward the goal of diversifying. Diversify or die! It is as simple as that if we are serious about sustaining the long period of growth we currently enjoy” Urling said, adding that “Government has to provide the foundation that harnesses and leads the private sector to new activities and productive capabilities.”
But despite the challenges identified, Urling remains optimistic about Guyana’s economy in 2014 and looks forward to more foreign investments.
The GCCI Head said the resilience of Guyana’s private sector; in particular, the gold and mining industries would qualify as the most important single development that impacted positively on the economy in 2013.
“Despite having to deal with a number of challenges including rising costs, stalled infrastructure projects, political wrangling, lower commodity prices, high electricity costs, and lack of skilled labour, just to name a few, our private sector remained undeterred.”
According to Urling, the economy revealed glaring vulnerabilities in 2013 with the precipitous price drop in the international gold market and the uncertainty surrounding major infrastructural works due to political discord. However, from all indications, he believes the economy will continue to display resilience and will record another year of favorable growth.