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Chilean cash for rural small business development

The “I Believe Campaign” banner unveiled during the opening night of GuyExPo 2013 (GINA photo)

Chilean funding is being made available to help finance the development of small businesses in countryside areas, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Irfan Ali announced on Thursday.

“The objective of the project is to enhance the livelihood or rural entrepreneurs,” he said.

Ali explained that under the project, 10 rural Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will received grants of US$5,000 each.  He said in the spirit of South-South Cooperation, Guyana has secured the seed-financing from Chile.

He was at the time addressing the official opening of GuyExpo, the annual trade exposition that is this year being co-hosted by government and the private sector, at the Sophia Exhibition Site. GuyExpo 2013 is being held under the theme “Advancing Productivity Through Innovation, Modernization and Expansion.”

The Industry and Commerce Minister also announced that plans were on stream to provide collateral guarantees to SMEs not exceeding GUY$30 million. Interest subsidies, grants and technical and management skills, he said, would also be provided.

Government also intends to pay special attention to community-based tourism and other projects that could benefit from the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

Steps are being taken, according to Ali, to improve Guyana’s rating on the World Bank Doing Business Index from 114 to 80 in 2016. “We ask that the private sector work with us in accomplishing this ambitious but achievable target,” he said.

Earlier Thursday, the Tourism Minister painted a bleak picture of the regional trade and investment climate because of the overall poor quality of transportation. “That is an immediate challenge that the region faces- regional transport infrastructure and when we speak about regional integration and integration of the economies, the most fundamental issue that needs to be fixed is the regional transport infrastructure.

Unless we fix this fundamental problem, unless we fix this burden on businesses, government commerce and people, we are not going to be able in any way, shape or form to integrate our economies and benefit from the diversified business opportunities that reside among our countries,” he said.

Prospective investors and exhibitors from Brazil, Caribbean islands, China, Nepal and the United States are participating in GuyExpo.

Speakers at the opening highlighted a number of achievements in housing, mining, transportation, potable water and investment in an industrial site in Lethem near Brazil.

The construction of a specialty hospital, the building of a new Demerara Harbour Bridge, the need to revive the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, pushing Information Communications Technology (ICT) and the resumption of construction of the Marriott-branded hotel were mentioned.