Tobacco Bill puffs doom for local Private Sector – economic advisor

Investment is critical to the development of any country and countries such as Guyana depend heavily on foreign direct investment. This is according to lead economic advisor to the Opposition, Peter Ramsaroop, who during an interview stated that the latest proverbial slap in the face of the Private Sector was the recently approved Tobacco Control Bill.
Ramsaroop was quick to point out that he is in no way an advocate of smoking and in fact believes every effort should be made to address the worldwide phenomenon, which has led to millions of deaths but “insulting and denigrating” the Private Sector will instead cause irreparable damage.
According to Ramsaroop, the caustic remarks levelled against local investors during the presentation of that Bill by Ministers in the coalition Government speaks volumes as to the attitudes of the Administration when it comes to dealing with businesses in Guyana.
Ramsaroop observed that not only did the Administration refuse to consult with the principal investor since the legislative impact will be crippling, but indications has already been signalled about the possibility of new taxes.

The onerous clauses in the legislation will not only severely impact the tobacco companies operating in Guyana since it will no doubt begin to erratically erode profits but the small man at the corner shop will also be affected.
The legislation effectively prohibits this practice. The legislation also effectively limits type of imports and some would even argue infringes on constitutional and other rights.
What is very clear is that puffs on the recently tabled tobacco control bill has a whiff of a silent partner’s hand, Ramsaroop noted.

Broadcast Bill
Ramsaroop in this week’s analysis of the Administration’s targeted attack on the Private Sector and with a special focus on those businesses and entrepreneurs that are perceived sympathetic to the Administration pointed to the Broadcast Bill.
For years while in Opposition the key players on this proposed Bill have railed against what the issuance of radio and TV licences.
This was revealed this past week when Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo finally presented a Bill to the House to do precisely that.
Ramsaroop asked why else would the Administration ask an operator with hundreds of millions in investments to reapply for a licence; a licence it would have been operating under for decades.
The former US military officer notes that these shenanigans obtain in countries where democracy is non-existent.
He said an even more frightening development is the fact that the Government will now be forcing privately-owned television and radio stations to air Government propaganda on a daily basis or risk losing their licences.
Ramsaroop posits however that with the signals being sent to private investors locally and overseas, none will come for the taking.
Dutch Disease
Ramsaroop, in taking a swipe at the Minister of Finance, noted that being able to call a few figures is not what is required of the country’s chief policymaker when it comes to finances and financial policy.
“Jordan is clearly unable to captain the ship at the Ministry of Finance… even he recently had to admit that again this year the Government is woefully behind on its spending for the year… imagine more than half of the year gone and the budget pass since last year and they can’t even spend half of the money as yet.”
Ramsaroop reminded that in the two years remaining, policies such as the ones embellished in the Tobacco Control Bill and the Broadcast Bill will run investors out of this country.