Last Updated on Saturday, 4 March 2017, 15:08 by Denis Chabrol
Finance Minister Winston Jordan believes the local manufacturing sector is not doing enough and has to take stock of itself and that its contribution to national earnings today is a mere five percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—a far cry from four decades ago when it stood at 15 per cent.
The Minister of Finance on Thursday (March 2, 2017) met with members of the media for a press engagement in the Ministry of Finance Boardroom, where he criticized the sector for not taking advantage of the current incentive regime and flat out bad business practices such as opting for Banks—which could be expensive—as against utilizing the Guyana Stock Exchange.
The manufacturing sector, according to Minister Jordan, would first claim “the environment is not right, the incentive framework is not right…When you check our incentive framework I believe it is far more healthy than it was in 1970s”
He contends that some of the issues affecting the local sector surround expensive bank loans and said “too many businesses don’t make use of Stock Exchange, they tend to go to banks for financing and that could be expensive.”
He pointed to complaints from the local manufacturing sector that relate to infrastructural problems such as poor facilities, expensive electricity which leads to self generation along with an un-skilled labour labour force—many of whom are unemployed—and said many of the problems can be overcome.
Minister Jordan was adamant however as it relates to the incentive regime. He said “the incentive framework is there…that is not much of a major issue.”
He said manufacturers “have to see things in a more modern light, a newer light so to speak.”
The Minister drew reference to Sante Fe Mega Farm in Rupununi, Region Nine, owned by a Barbadian Investor, Kyffin Simpson.
Minister Jordan said, “Look where he is and look what he is doing, he didn’t hang around in Georgetown and so on, you didn’t hear him complaining everyday about what government is not giving him.”
The Finance Minister said the Barbadian investor currently controls 99 per cent “of our trade with Brazil…just out in the savannahs there, people don’t like hear you say that.”
The Minister said the reality is “our manufacturing sector has to take stock and understand precisely; we are here to help, we are certainly here to help but we have to be as innovative as the next person.”
He lamented imports appearing on supermarket shelves and being sold out, such as plantain chips for Costa Rica saying “we have to take stock of ourselves.”
Jordan posited introspection to determine whether there are underlying issues that hinder the growth of the industry locally.