Granger berates business community for not investing more
Business Summit 2017
…ignores Private Sector pleas for clarity on Govt policies
Head of State, President David Granger on Wednesday pointedly blanked several direct calls made by Private Sector leaders for clarity on Government’s economic development policies such as taxation, oil and gas and energy, and instead lashed out at the business community for not investing more.
Granger was at the time delivering the keynote address at the opening of “Guyana Business Summit 2017”, which got underway on Wednesday at the Georgetown
Organised by the Private Sector Commission (PSC) with support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the activity saw in attendance scores of business leaders and representatives, members of the diplomatic community, representatives of the donor community and members from each side of the political divide.
Granger, in scolding the business sector, said investors have been coming to Guyana from across the world, including the Americans, Brazilians, British, Canadians, Chinese, French, Indians and Russians.
“All are investing in Guyana, why can’t you…why should Guyanese have to be reminded…Guyanese should have no good reason for not increasing investment in their country,” the President said.
In lashing out at the Private Sector representatives for failing to invest in the country, the President said Government has been working to create a more enabling environment.
He told the Private Sector it would have to position itself in order to take advantage of emerging opportunities since it has the expertise and experience to drive economic development.
The President also used the occasion to lament the lagging ratio of commercial banks operating in Guyana, saying Government has been encouraging this industry to expand its services to other zones.
Addressing the opening of the Business Summit, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President Deodat Indar, speaking in the stead of PSC Chairman Eddie Boyer, was among the representatives to throw out direct questions ahead of the President’s remarks.
Directly addressing the President at the third-ever such gathering to be held in the nation’s history, the Private Sector representative said the consensus among the business leaders was that the country could not depend on the oil and gas sector alone.
He said the Private Sector was of the view that there was need for a diversification of the economy, but that there also needed to be clear signals being sent from the Administration to investors and the business community at large.
Turning to President Granger – seated in the first row of the conference room along with Business Minister Dominic Gaskin – the GCCI President called on the President to clarify his position on a range of issues.
“Please clarify Government approach to economic development,” Indar requested and listed taxation policy, incentive programmes for business, strengthening democracy, and ensuring the rule of law as a few of the main concerns.
Indar said the Private Sector wanted the Head of State to clarify how Government intended to work with the business community to create jobs.
The oil and gas sector – a hot button topic throughout the course of the first day – also saw appeals from the Private Sector.
The business leader told President Granger the PSC wanted a better understanding of precisely where and how the revenues from that industry would be spent.
Government, he reminded, is the biggest spender.
Such clarity from the President “will assist the Private Sector on where and when to invest”.
The GCCI President – reading a prepared statement from PSC Chairman Boyer – told the opening of the Business Summit the confab had been organised, for the coming to real solutions that would bring marked benefit with regard to national development and not “another talk shop”.
Delivering the keynote address, Head of State Granger instead pointed to inherited problems still to be solved and repeated that Government has “been working to creating an environment supportive of social economic development linked to the objective for good life for all”.
The President said the Administration had inherited an anarchistic colonial ‘three counties’ system which divided the country into Essequibo, Demerara and Berbice. This, he said, posed significant administrative problems and as such, Government has started the process of re-balancing the public service along with the entire economy.
The opening of the two-day forum also heard from Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association head Shyam Nokta, who, in his appeal ahead of the confab, told those gathered of the need to look at the bigger picture.
“We need to ask ourselves what kind of economy we want to see by 2025,” he said as he reminded of the transformative potential of the oil and gas sector.
Nokta was adamant there was need for a clear strategy to stimulate growth of the Private Sector in the years to come.
Nokta, in addressing the business leaders, reminded of the urgency of collaboration and urgent action.
The opening of “Guyana Business Summit 2017” saw presentations also from IDB Resident Representative Sophie Makonnen, who was also firm in exhortations for a more inclusive, ground-based approach by stakeholders in the need to tackle social economic disparities.
The IDB Country Representative was critical too of the continued dependence on traditional exports such as rice and gold, which remain susceptible to international market prices.