…chides business community for not investing more
Head of State, David Granger, today, pointedly blanked several direct calls made by Private Sector leaders, for clarity on economic development, government policies such as taxation, oil and gas and energy, and instead chided the business community for not investing more.
Granger was at the time delivering the keynote address at the opening of ‘Guyana Business Summit 2017’ which got underway on Wednesday at the Georgetown Marriott.
Organised by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the activity saw in attendance scores of business leaders and representatives, members of the diplomatic community, representatives of the donor community and members from each side of the political divide.
Granger said investors have been coming to Guyana from across the world including the Americans, Brazilians, British, Canadians, Chinese, French, Indians and Russians among others.
“All are investing in Guyana, why can’t you….why should Guyanese have to be reminded…Guyanese should have no good reason for not increasing investment in their country,” the President said.
The President in lashing out at the private sector representatives for failing to invest in the country said Government has been working to create a more enabling environment.
He told the private sector it will have to position itself in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities since it has the expertise and experience to drive economic development.
The president also used the occasion to lament, the lagging ratio of commercial banks operating in Guyana saying Government has been encouraging this industry to expand its services to other zones.
Addressing the opening of the Business Summit, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President, Deodat Indar, speaking in the stead of PSC Chairman Eddie Boyer, was among the representatives to throw out direct questions ahead of the President’s remarks.
Directly addressing the President at the third ever such gathering to be held in the nation’s history, the private sector representative said the consensus among the business leaders, is that the country cannot depend on the oil and gas sector alone.
Deodat said the private sector is of the view that there is need for diversification of the economy but that there also needs to be clear signals being sent from the Administration to investors and the business community at large.
Turning to President Granger—seated in the first row of the conference room along with Business Minster Dominic Gaskin—the GCCI head called on the president to clarify his position on a range of issues.
“Please clarify Government’s approach to economic development,” Deodat questioned while listing taxation policies, incentive programmes for business, strengthening democracy and ensuring the rule of law as a few of the main queries.
Deodat said the private sector wanted the Head of State to clarify how Government intends to work with the business community to create jobs.
The Oil and Gas sector—a hot button topic throughout the course of the first day—also saw appeals from the private sector.
The business leader told President Granger that the PSC wanted a better understanding of precisely where and how the revenues from that industry will be spent. Government, he reminded is the biggest spender.
Such clarity from the President, “will assist the private sector on where and when to invest.”
The GCCI President—reading a prepared statement from PSC Chairman Boyer, told the opening of the Business Summit, the confab had been organised with the aim of coming to real solutions that would bring marked benefit with regards to national development and not “another talk shop.”
Granger instead pointed to inherited problems still to be solved and repeated that Government has “been working to create an environment supportive of social and economic development linked to the objective of a good life for all.”
Opposition Leader Dr Bharrat Jagdeo had challenged President Granger not to deliver ‘another good life speech’.
The forum also heard from Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association representative, Shyam Nokta, who told those gathered of the need to look at the bigger picture. “We need to ask ourselves what kind of economy we want to see by 2025,” as he reminded of the transformative potential of the oil and gas sector.
Nokta was adamant there is need for a clear strategy to stimulate growth of the private sector in the years to come. He reminded of the urgency of collaboration and urgent action.
IDB Resident Representative, Sophie Makonnen, was also firm in exhortations for a more inclusive, ground-based approach by stakeholders in the need to tackle social economic disparities.
Cognizant of the significant oil reserve, Makonnen said it means Guyana is poised to become a regional powerhouse and reminded that many opportunities will come as a result.
She urged the Administration to consult more with the private sector saying, “governments that listen to private sector are more likely to design credible reforms.”