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Slow business forces staff retrenchment

The headquarters of the Private Sector Commission.

by Zena Henry

The local business community is seeking ways to cushion the impact of economy’s sluggishness and workers are the first on the chopping block.

Over the last couple of months, there has been a significant reduction in staffers across the business sector information has shown.

So much so, that the Private Sector Commission (PSC) is expected to issue a public release on this issue, among others come Monday. This is according to chairman of the PSC’s Trade and Investment Committee Ramesh Dookoo.

He told Demerara Waves Saturday July, 25 that the matter of staff retrenchment was among the burning topics at a PSC meeting held Friday. Dookoo pointed out that representatives from the manufacturing, commercial, construction and other sectors were present at the meeting, “and indeed there has been some amount of persons laid off.” He declined to provide detaols, but noted that the general consensus among the representatives was that the economic slow might have been noticed for the past three years due to previous and recent flooding, along with little government spending contributing to this state.

Financial analyst Raymond Gaskin also included the prorogation of Parliament by the former Administration as the major contributor to the economic slothfulness. In his view, the former government is to be blamed for this economic lethargy “because when they closed Parliament, a budget was not produced and the country went on without one for a whole year.”

After Parliament had gone into recess in July of last year, it was prorogued in October, then a date for election was set for May 11, 2015 and the new government was given the legal time frame to have the budget passed. Today makes more than a year since the country has no budget. While Gaskin was critical that government should have by now had their budget ready, he threw the weight of the economic slow down squarely on the shoulders of the PPP.

Major companies such as BK International, National Hardware, Gafoors, among others have been identified as being affected; some more than others. Demerara Waves was reliably informed that a significant number of BK’s quarry staffers were laid off with the employee size of some 150, scaled down to 50. BK’s CEO, Brian Tiwari told the news site that the company is however “working.”

It was also noted that while workers have been laid off, others retained are working certain hours or part time. The Opposition was the first to identify an economic slowdown and warned the government that the country is heading to a recession. They proposed places where the government can find money to re-energise public spending.

Finance Minister, Winston Jordan was quoted by the Government Information Agency (GINA) as saying that he intends to table the National Budget in the National Assembly before September aimed at jump-starting the economy. “We are looking at a package of revenue and expenditure measures that even in this short period of time can result in the stimulation of the economy.” 

While the Minister does not fully support that a stimulus “to the extent that some people are touting” is needed, he said Government clearly has to “go to the sources of the slowdown in the economy.”

Jordan explained that the slowdown in the economy started since 2014. “You will find at the last budget, the last minister was projecting 5.2% growth…well we didn’t get that kind of growth. In a sense that is a slowdown…,”he said.