Private Sector a partner in development – Finance Minister

…days of APNU/AFC treating business sector as enemies over

Senior Minister in the Office of the President, with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, has made it clear that Government sees the Private Sector as an important partner in national development and economic growth.
In a recent interview with US-based radio announcer Farook Juman, Singh spoke of the importance the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Government attaches to the Private Sector. In fact, he pointed out that one of President Dr. Irfaan Ali’s first acts as President was meeting with members of the business community.
“This Government considers job creation and Private Sector growth as the primary source of economic growth and wellbeing in the country. This is probably best manifested by President Ali’s invitation on the first working day as President, (when) he invited the leaders of the Private Sector to a meeting,” Dr Singh detailed.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh

“This conveys the level of attention we attach to developing a close working engagement with the Private Sector in Guyana, and ensuring that we do everything to foster Private Sector involvement, confidence, growth and expansion. So, a lot of this is about restoring confidence in the Private Sector.”
According to Dr Singh, this stands in sharp contrast with the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government’s antagonistic approach to the private sector. He explained that the PPP Government immediately set that approach aside when it entered office.
“The Private Sector is not our enemy, in contrast to our predecessors in office, who clearly viewed the Private Sector as their enemy. The Private Sector is not in competition with us. In contrast, just like the Government, the Private Sector is in the business of growing the economy and developing the country. So, we have sent the signal that we are a business-friendly Government,” he explained.
Singh noted that the new, business-friendly atmosphere is evident in a number of ways, including the PPP Government’s tax policies. The former APNU/AFC’s many punitive tax measures were relaxed by the new Government.
“They (APNU/AFC) do not understand the role that the Private Sector plays in investment and in creating jobs and in generating incomes for people, and so they do not see the adverse effects that taxing the Private Sector out of business will have on people’s lives,” the Minister said.
“We’ve immediately reversed a lot of the punitive tax measures. Budget 2020 did that right away, not only on businesses, but on households. And when you reverse punitive tax measures on consumers, you’re putting disposable income in the hands of consumers, who then go and spend that disposable income in the marketplace.”

In calling attention to Guyana’s status as an investment-friendly country, President Ali had previously pointed to the country’s attractive investment regime, which is being refashioned to become more investment-friendly. For instance, there are a number of measures included in National Emergency Budget 2020 which the President has said are aimed at improving the ease of doing business, increasing competitiveness, and reducing investment and production costs. In this regard, several key budget measures have been implemented, including tax concessions on agro-processing, cold storage and packaging; the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on exports; and allowing exporters, including those in the fishing, rice and timber industries, to reclaim input VAT.
Measures to reduce investment and production costs include the removal of VAT on building and construction materials, electricity and water; the removal of VAT on fertilisers, agro-chemicals, pesticides, and key inputs into the poultry sector; and the zero-rating of the poultry industry.
At the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA’s) 25th Annual Awards Ceremony last month, Ali had said the impending expansion of Guyana’s economy with the oil and gas sector would open the floodgates to business opportunities as well as enlarge the country’s fiscal space to better address deficiencies in the productive sectors.
On this note, he said Government would promulgate policies to expand, strengthen and diversify manufacturing and services.
According to Ali, manufacturing and services will become mainstays of the ‘new economy’.
In the same breath, however, he had said the traditional sectors would not be neglected. Despite the problems which confront these sectors, the President contends, they still collectively continue to be a lifeline for tens of thousands of Guyanese. (G3)