The Private Sector Commission on Thursday called on government to take several steps to pull Guyana out of economic doldrums.
Addressing the Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Marriott Hotel, Battery Road, Kingston, the Chairman of the PSC’s Finance and Economic sub-committee, Ramesh Persaud called on government to send clear signals to investors. “We want the government to share their economic vision and economic plan. Very little is known at this stage except in the budget speeches so we hope tat we can hear nore about that so that we can inspire confidence in investors,” he said.
Persaud could not say specifically how employment could be created, but said there was need for at least 25,000 jobs. Other suggestions include the need for companies
to improve their competitiveness, focus on export-led growth to lower the trade deficit, improve standards, increase productivity and capture niche markets. “We need to innovate more, spend more and research better,” he said.
Using data from the Bank of Guyana and other official sources, Persaud said the growth rate has been slowing down to a projected 3 percent for 2016 and aggregate expenditures declined by about US$200 million last year.
Persaud also called for more engagements between government and the business community to understand each other better and share ideas. “Not much engagement is taking place, at least with the Private Sector Commission. Much more needs to be taking place to inspire confidence,” he said.
In his address to the PSC’s AGM, the Minister of Business said there was need for a proper avenue for the government and the private sector to engage each other. “I believe that there is a valuable partnership that can be forged between the public and private sector and right now what is needed is a structure that provides an effective mechanism for a continued public-private dialogue aimed at building a stronger and more attractive economy that can support the development of diverse industries and reduce our reliance on primary exports,” he said.
The PSC official further urged government to spend more of the monies allocated to the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP), against the backdrop that GYD$20 million on PSIP projects were not spent last year. At the same time, he cited the need for contractors to complete their works on time and at the desired quality.
Persaud appealed to Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin to do more to improve Guyana’s conditions to do business and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public services. Also touched on was the need to “rethink” the outdated regulations and their enforcement because they have been affecting businesses.
Gaskin conceded that the economy has slowed down but said the sluggishness did not begin when the APNU+AFC coalition assumed office on May 11, 2015. Attributing Guyana’s average 4 percent economic growth in recent years to mainly good rice and gold prices as well as “stained money,” he said government had no control over global demand and commodity prices. Gaskin said the most government could do is work with the private sector to create a better business environment. “The effort has to be a joint effort and our Government is committed to partnering with the private sector to bring about these improvements. I have no reason to believe that there is any reluctance on the part of the private sector to work with our government towards the achievement of common goals and objectives,” he said.