Urgent intervention needed to help Berbice economy – Chairman

… Business owners downscaling, employees laid off

The Berbice economy is experiencing difficulty as urgent measures are needed to cushion effects of the current economic downturn in Region Six (East Berbice/Corentyne). Regional Chairman David Armogan
This is according to Regional Chairman David Armogan who was speaking at the 83rd anniversary of the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association (BCCDA) where he said there has been a “cash flow” problem over the past year, has worsened, and has left numerous businesses in jeopardy with many opting to downscale.
The chairman in analysing the business situation in the region noted that the Region Six economy is primarily based on two crops; rice and sugar.
“Once these two crops get into trouble; and they are in trouble right now because of low commodity prices in the world, we find that our economy begins to take a downward turn or even get sluggish or stagnated,” the chairman pointed out.
He added that in 2014 the price for a bag of paddy was $3200 per bag to under $2000 per bag presently. Acreages under cultivation over the same period has also decreased from 62,000 to 52,000, he noted, adding that apart from gold, rice has been the main foreign exchange earner for Guyana for a number of years.
The sugar industry Armogan noted, has been hard hit by a decision by the European Union to sever ties with Guyana with respect to the preferential market, thus the country is now competing on the world market. This resulted in sugar price being dropped by some 30 per cent.
Additionally several business-owners in the region have expressed concerns about the slow pace of business in the region.
“Many businesspeople that I have spoken to over the last few months have said to me that sales have dropped between twenty-five and 50 per cent.
Many have started to lay-off their labour force as well as decreasing the work days for workers in our region. Unless something is done and done very quickly I think we will be experiencing some difficulty in business,” the Chairman warned.