Feral blast… or tough love?

Well…well…well…who woulda thought??!! President Ali reaming out the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI)?? Naaah!! Your Eyewitness and most Guyanese assumed that breeze couldn’t pass between the President’s administration and the Chamber!! Ali had even taken more than his fair share of flack for their supposed closeness. So what’s the scoop on what went down at the GCCI’s Business Development Forum at the new Peg, where Ali was invited to deliver the keynote address??

It seems the President was taken aback by the GCCI President’s introductory remarks. While the fella mentioned the Forum’s five thematic areas – access to finance, opportunities for business, improving standards and quality, doing business in Guyana, and marketing fundamentals – he honed in on access to finance as the most critical. He blamed local banks most of all, and charged that they “need to get up off of their ‘tush’ and get to work!!” And while not mentioning it, he must’ve had in mind the said banks announcing hundreds of millions of US dollars in PROFITS every quarter for the last two years!! He received loud cheers from his business audience.
He announced that his organisation had surveyed some 450 businesses and they were pulling their hair out as to how they’d secure the US$112M they needed for immediate expansion to exploit the Local Content Policy!! As an aside, think about the fact that while our businesses can’t raise that amount, some are insisting we shouldn’t have locals develop some of our new oil blocks – where it’ll take at least US$6 billion to get to the oil under more than a mile of Atlantic waters!! The GCCI head honcho then moved on to identify some concrete shortcomings, such as the lack of depth of the financial markets, the taxation system, and standards to meet competition in a globalised economy.
Clearly, Pres Ali, must’ve seen this as an attack on his administration’s efforts in these areas up to now, and threw away his prepared presentation to defend his record!! He announced the need for some “tough conversation”, and proceeded to initiate just that!! He identified the Saudi investor group he’d brought, and — while he didn’t explicitly mention it — he must’ve remembered he’d tried to court them by even wearing a kaffiyeh tied with the camel hair cord, the iquaal!! He pointed out that not a single business proposal was made!!
He spoke about the Korean business group’s ditto result. Then there was the UK team proposing UKEF financing for a whole new supply chain of foods – with not even a feasibility study presented by the Private Sector for consideration.
He concluded bluntly, “The Government has a responsibility of opening up opportunities, but you (also) have a responsibility”!
Over to the GCCI!!

…from US Ambassador??
The US Ambassador’s leaving soon, after a most eventful sojourn since March 2019 in our dear mudland!! She arrived here after a long stint at USAID, where, in overseeing a US$5B budget for the region, she had gotten the opportunity to observe matters political from her vantage point up close and personal. That she was sent when oil was struck by Exxon after they’d been squeezed out in Venezuela surely wasn’t coincidental. She soon established a style of her own – one that made her easily the most visible and interactive with ordinary Guyanese since the beginning of diplomatic relations with Guyana. She knows Guyana!
So, we should take seriously her latest advice to the Government on the eve of her departure: “(Guyana) is an ethnically-divided society, and so they will need to focus on inclusion; and there have been many efforts to do so so far, but they will need to continue to do that, and at an increased pace.”
We can’t ignore the ethnic factor!

…from DCEO
One clear thread running through each of the witnesses’ evidence to the Election Rigging Commission is the insidious role of the DCEO. The picture emerging is of a fanatically PNC partisan willing to do whatever it takes to rig the elections.