Boom in construction sector, increased investments result from ease of doing business – Finance Minister
The increased activity in the construction sector and investment expansion can be traced to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business since it took office.
This was according to Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh who in an exclusive interview with the Guyana Times spoke of the strides the Government has made towards improving the ease of doing business.
“When we came into Government, there were a number of companies who had expansion plans that were stymied, frustrated, because of the bureaucracy and bureaucratic inertia. Agencies failing to process applications for permits, failing to approve or respond to various other applications.”
“As soon as we came into Government, this was a priority. To unblock a lot of those stumbling blocks that were erected to frustrate and stymie business opportunity. This is why you’ve seen the tremendous explosion of construction, investment activity, expansion, etc,” Dr Singh added.
Further, he made it clear, however, that much remained to be done to further improve the ease of doing business. This is where work to develop two single window systems comes in. One to deal with construction permits and one to deal with trade.
“We’re also committed to addressing all of the other systemic issues as it relates to the ease of doing business. We want to get to the point where it’s much easier for people to apply for permits, obtain permits, apply for licenses and obtain them where they’re needed,” Minister Singh said.
“This is why you would have heard me speak of the two major single window projects that we’re working on. The single window for trade transactions is going to make it much easier for businesses to do trade transactions. And the single window for construction permits, which is also going to make it easier for businesses and households to do construction transactions.”
In its last report, the World Bank ranked Guyana 134 out of 190 countries in its Doing Business Report for 2020 as it relates to the ease of doing business. Guyana’s overall score on the report was 55.5, down from 55.6 in the previous report.
During a recent in-person and virtual seminar hosted by the Natural Resources Ministry in collaboration with the Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry, under the theme “Opportunities for the Diaspora in Guyana’s New Economy”, Foreign Secretary Robert Persaud had fielded questions on doing business in Guyana.
During the event, members of the Diaspora were told of the abundance of opportunities available here that they could tap into. But one participant who has partnered with a member of the Guyanese Diaspora to set up a business here pointed out that one of the major challenges for investors was the tedious task of doing business here.
In response, Guyana’s Foreign Secretary had posited that Government has been working on making Government agencies more investor-friendly as well as improving the way business is done in the country.
Speaking to the issues raised about the local banking system, Persaud noted that Government has no control over that since the banking procedures were in compliance with the various anti-money laundering legislation and practices. In fact, he stated that even Guyanese are frustrated with the stringent banking system practices in place.
Moreover, the Foreign Secretary had outlined that oftentimes people did not understand the systems in Guyana and were not even aware that many Government services, as well as information, have been moved online.
Additionally, it was pointed out that there were companies here such as the Guyana Logistics & Support Services (GLASS) that handle all domestic procedures for investors wanting to set up businesses here.