Following a meeting hosted between the Private Sector Commission (PSC) and its affiliates earlier this week, the body has come to a resolution that the combination of poor policies, ill-judged statements and paucity of significant new investments has caused it to lose confidence in the APNU/AFC Government.
According to the body, in a statement yesterday, continued growth and improvement in Guyana cannot continue if investors’ confidence continues to be eroded. And it noted that “the trajectory in which the country is heading at the moment does not inspire such confidence.”
“Participants noted the decline of the economy. Among the concerns are the crippling new taxes for the mining sector and the institution of Value Added Tax on necessities. The members of the business community present expressed a lack of confidence in the manner the Government is managing the economy.”
“This is reflected in the flight of capital from Guyana and the lack of significant new investments in the last two years. Real estate values are dwindling, property for sale inventory is on the rise and wealth is eroding rapidly.”
The body called for the Government to create an enabling environment and to increase its engagements with the business community. This, it noted, was to facilitate the creation of employment opportunities, ensure wage growth and “measures to increase the wealth of all Guyanese”.
Other items on the agenda were the State Assets Recovery Agency (SARA) Bill, the parking meter contract, the rule of law, and the state of the economy. The PSC noted that the SARA Bill, Bill No 3 of 2017, delegated too much power to the SARA Director.
“While the consensus of businesses is that there is a need for unlawfully appropriated assets of the State to be recovered, it was felt that the SARA Bill provides too much unchecked power to the Agency. The Director of SARA supersedes the Courts, the Commissioner of Police and the Commissioner General of GRA.”
“The Bill will impede business progress as it allows for harassment and political victimisation of legitimate businesses. The Bill allows staff of the Agency to arbitrarily look at private accounts and financial information of citizens without due process. This Bill should be recalled and amended to be consistent with the constitutional rights of citizens.”
The PSC has always been a staunch critic of the parking meter project agreed to by top officials from the Georgetown Mayor and City Council (M&CC) and a foreign company. The meters have been consistently boycotted; however, with the result that businesses have reported a drop in sales.
Coming out of its meeting, the PSC reported that members of the business community present were demanding that a Commission of Inquiry be set up to investigate the parking meter initiative.
The body said that clarity must be provided as to the feasibility studies done, the nature of accountability for the revenues, the role of Government in each stage of the project, the tendering and approval process, and the extent of a legal review of the contract.
However, it was noted that given the “obscurity” of the process, consensus was reached that the contract should be rescinded in its entirety.
The PSC also stated that allegations of political involvement in the judicial system were noted with great concern. It emphasised that there must be a separation of the Government and the Judiciary, as well as the role Government plays to ensure full autonomy and adequate financial resources to maintain such a system.
“There is need for Judges to be appointed at all levels, especially at the Court of Appeal and the High Court. In addition, the presence of one Commercial Judge to handle the thousands of cases annually is inadequate. This needs to be addressed,” the PSC also added.
Recently, President David Granger stated that his Government deserved an “A “grade for the work it has done since coming into office in 2015. This self-assessment has not been well received by sections of society and the Opposition party.