“Complete absurdity” – Finance Minister on barriers to doing business

…tells Canada-Guyana Chamber hurdles to be dismantled

The Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Tuesday to, among other things, ratify the appointment of its directors, with Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh assuring it of the Government’s intent to dismantle barriers to doing business.
Dr Singh was a special guest at the Canada-Guyana Chamber AGM. In his keynote address, the Minister spoke of the Government’s efforts to increase the ease of doing business, which he noted must be improved.

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh while attending the CGCC AGM. Also in picture, from left, are Attorney-at-Law and Director/Secretary Patricia Bacchus and CGCC Chairman Anand Beharry

For instance, the Minister noted the impracticality of the paper-based business model overwhelmingly used in Guyana. This is something, he noted, both Government agencies and the Private Sector are guilty of.
“We still have agencies in Guyana where you have to go and pick up a paper form, carry it back to your office, fill it out manually, take it back to an office, lodge the form, go to another window to pay, probably go to another window to collect your receipt and then take your receipt back to another office to say, here is the evidence I paid.
“And many of us live this every day. We endure it. And frankly speaking, it’s a complete absurdity. It’s completely unnecessary. Modern technology has expanded the possibilities so tremendously. And that technology is still so dreadfully underutilised,” the Minister said.
According to the Minister, Cabinet instructions to public sector agencies are clear: wherever possible, facilitate the submission of digital documents. He also noted that they were working on creating two portals – one for construction permits and the other for trade transactions.
“The Cabinet’s instructions are very clear. Government agencies are to start embracing technology to make the business and corporate experience as friendly as possible. Some of that will involve very simple solutions. Putting the form online. Some of that will involve more elaborate solutions.
“So, one of the more elaborate solutions we’re speaking about, is at least two single window pieces of architecture, which we will be putting in place. The first is for a single window for trade transactions. Import and export… we’re also looking for a single window for transactions associated with construction permitting,” Dr Singh said.
He noted that importers at times have to visit several agencies to get various permits, before they can import or export various goods. The idea is to have a facility where payments and one transaction request is then routed to the relevant agencies for approval – all of which is done online and would cut down on the need for multiple visits to different agencies.
The construction permit single window would operate on a similar basis, since persons doing construction are presently required to liaise with a number of agencies, including the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA); the Guyana Fire Service and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
“Here again, the mandate that has been given from the highest level of Government is that that inefficiency must also be eliminated. Construction permitting must be facilitated through a single window,” the Finance Minister said.
Meanwhile, the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce ratified the appointments of 10 directors. Among them were Anand Beharry, the Chairman, and Attorney-at-Law Patricia Bacchus as Director and Secretary.
The remaining members include former Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Vishnu Doerga, Winston Kassim, Suraj Mattai, Mohamed Hussein, Fareed Amin, Caron Hawco, Scott Young, and Andrew Mendes.
Other items on the agenda include receiving the chamber’s accounts and reports of the Directors and Auditors for the year ended December 31, 2021. Additionally, receiving the Chairman’s remarks was on the agenda.
The Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce (CGCC) is a non-partisan institution promoting and facilitating investment and trade between Guyana and Canada, and Guyana and other countries. The CGCC was launched on December 4, 2020. (G3)