Business Minister admits political climate affecting local investments
In light of the ongoing uncertainty created by the non-compliance of Guyana’s Constitution for the announcement of an elections date following the passage of the no-confidence resolution on December 21, 2019, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin has admitted that investment is being affected by the political situation.
In an interview with Guyana Times on Saturday, Gaskin said that the state of affairs is impacting local business investments.
While the situation is affecting local investments, the Minister claimed that foreign investors, especially those in the oil and gas sector, are not detoured.
“I know that generally, local investors, if they sense that there is any sort of political uncertainty, they are not the foreign investors, not the oil and gas sector or anything like that but a lot of our local investors who may be planning a project or something,” Gaskin said.
He added, “Some of them will tend to want to wait and see just in case. It’s always, it’s unfortunate but it’s always been the case where too much emphasis is placed on politics and sometimes when politicians are at war or are battling each other, the business community allows itself to be impacted. I don’t really think it should I don’t see any cause for concern or for panic because we are a mature democracy by now and we are capable of handling these situations without it spilling over into our economy”.
Although Gaskin assured that the ongoing political situation in Guyana will not affect foreign investors, the members of the American, British, Canadian and European (ABCE) diplomatic community recently met with officials from the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) during which concerns were raised about the impact the current political situation can have on potential investment opportunities.
The diplomats met with GECOM’s Chairman, Commissioners and members of the Commission’s secretariat after Chairman of the entity, retired Justice James Patterson used his deciding vote to pass the motion to inform the President that General Elections cannot be held by the constitutional March 19, 2019, deadline.
A major businessman, Derek Chin, Chairman of MovieTowne has previously told this newspaper that he was awaiting the outcome of the no-confidence motion’s legal issues before opening for business.
In February, the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) said it had conducted a study following the passage of the December 21, 2018, no-confidence motion and found that the looming political uncertainty has caused some 64 per cent of businesses to register some sort of decline.
The Chamber said it was concerned about the effect of the impact of the associated uncertainty on the business community, adding that it was that level of uncertainty which prompted the survey to gauge the effect of the political environment on business performance.
“From the results, 64 per cent of respondents (or about two in every three businesses) experienced some form of decline due to uncertainty over the state of political affairs in Guyana. For those businesses which registered a decline in activity, approximately 85 per cent experienced a 25 to 50 per cent drop in the level of commercial activity. The remaining 15 per cent experienced 75 to 100 per cent decline in business,” the GCCI said.
The passage of the December 21, 2018, no-confidence motion saw the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government being toppled. The motion was moved by Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo and carried in a 33-32 vote, with AFC MP Charrandas Persaud defecting in a vote of conscience in favour of the motion.
Meanwhile, with less than two weeks remaining before the country heads into a constitutional crisis, the David Granger-led Administration on Friday shot down a People’s Progressive Party (PPP) proposal to have elections held before the current voters’ list expires on April 30, 2019.