The Ministry of Business on Thursday launched its 2016-2020 strategic business plan, and Minister of Business and Tourism, Dominic Gaskin expressed confidence that its implementation would help boost Guyana’s economy and improve its development.
“By the time we have concluded the implementation of this plan you will see significant improvements to aid the business environment.” Gaskin told the launching ceremony that was held at Cara Lodge.
He said almost everything in the ministry’s plan is geared towards improving Guyana’s economic performance; improving the business environment, improving competitiveness, creating an investment promotion strategy and value-added export strategy and small business development, all of which are expected to contribute to an enhanced economic performance,” he said at the launch of the Strategic Plan.
He emphasised however, that the strategic plan is not a national plan, but one crafted by the Ministry of Business to guide its activities and includes its vision, mission, and strategic objectives.
Meanwhile, United Nations Development Project (UNDP)’s Deputy Resident Representative Shabnam Mallick, in her remarks, noted that creating a strategic plan for the ministry of business is a challenging task, but nothing can be as challenging as creating a successful business. She said it’s her hope that this plan will create the enabling conditions for creating many successful businesses. Both Mallick and Gaskin agreed that the media have a particularly important role in promoting the benefits of entrepreneurship. “The media can help create a positive image around entrepreneurship and starting your own businesses. Research has shown that rising coverage of entrepreneurs in the media can encourage more people to consider a career as their own boss,” Mallick said.
She assured that the UNDP, with its wealth of experience and access to international resources, stands ready to provide any support necessary as the plan goes along.
In a a brief overview of the strategic plan, Economist at the Ministry of Business, Nicole Haynes highlighted the major competitiveness challenges faced by the business industry in Guyana, the opportunities available for dealing with these challenges, and the main outputs of the plan. The five challenges listed are the low value added exports; the concentration of exports – as of 2015 Guyana had 83% of its GDP solely contributed by sugar, rice, timber and bauxite; lack of fiscal space to implement a counter-cyclical stimulus investment push strategy – Guyana has limited space for altering tools such as taxes; vulnerability to climate change – given the population concentration on the Coastal Plain and Guyana’s geographical make-up; and a low ranking on the global competitiveness index (GCI) – as of 2017 Guyana had ranked 121st out of 140.
Among the opportunities identified are expected stable exports; new technologies, which will change the patterns of production and consumption; strong government commitment to improvement in transportation and telecommunication infrastructure and renewable energy; great potential in tourism as an export; low oil price, which implies that less resources are spent on energy; and extensive resources to produce renewable energy to reduce the cost of electricity.
Through the plan, the Ministry of Business hopes to increase sustainable private sector investments; to improve the ease of doing business; to increase value added production and exports and support small business development.
The main outputs of the plan, with a time-frame entail the implementation of the Doing Business Action Plan (2016-2017); a State-of-the-art Laboratory (2018-2020), a Small Business or Incubator Accelerator (2016-2017), a National Sustainability Investment Strategy (2016-2020), a Single Window for Trade Transactions (2016-2020); and a National Value Added Export Strategy (2018-2020).
Work on the plan began around June of 2015, when a core group comprising of junior staff from the ministry did considerable ground work. This resulted in the preparation of an interim draft strategic framework, and a strategic action plan.
The two were reviewed by officials from UNDP and subsequently the Ministry of Business received further support from the UNDP through the provision of an external consultant, Natalie Sealey. Sealey worked extensively with the strategic planning committee to develop this plan, and in the process of developing the strategic plan she held extensive consultations with both public and private sectors. Based on its new vision “increased living standards for all Guyanese in a diverse and green economy”, the Ministry derived strategic objectives that will help to create a business environment that fosters innovation, competitiveness, growth and diverse employment opportunities.
The launch was held at Cara Lodge, Georgetown.