PPP says ease of doing business now harder; govt announces IDB-funded fix

Last Updated on Monday, 4 December 2017, 13:15 by Denis Chabrol

PPP parliamentarian, Irfan Ali

The opposition People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) on Monday said evidence shows that Guyana has slipped on the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ ranking, a situation government hopes to remedy with a multi-million dollar project to be funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

PPP Shadow Finance Minister, Irfan Ali, in kicking off debate on the 2018 National Debate, noted that Guyana suffered a “big slide” of two base points on the ‘ease of doing business’ index, reflecting significant declines in several areas.

Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, who spoke immediately after, did not deny Ali’s claims but he announced that the IDB project would assist in clearing administrative bottlenecks in several areas  of doing business briskly.

Ali charged that the two percent base point slippage amounted to a “tremendous deterioration” in several categories. 15 places down in processing building permits; five down in getting electricity; a reduction of nine points in protecting minority investors; a fall by eight points in getting credit; a seven point drop in trading across borders; eight places down in reducing in resolving insolvency and two points in enforcement of contracts.

“This is the reality that our country is faced with -decline, slippage. We are on a slipper pathway to the green concept,” he said in reference to the pro-environment thrust of the Granger-led coalition administration.

While Ali was delivering his presentation, Opposition Chief Whip, Gail Teixeira muttered “slip and slide, slip and slide”.

The Minister of Business said GY$10 million have been allocated in the 2018 budget for an electronic single window

Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin

system across government agencies. However the bulk of the GY$21.2 billion project, he said, would be funded by the IDB.

“The system is intended to automate and enhance the flow of information between businesses and regulatory agencies, resulting in a more efficient and less uncertain process for obtaining various approvals from government so you would be able to get your licences and your permits and your approvals simply by logging on utilizing a single electronic window where you will no longer have to be submitting the same information to ten different government agencies,” Gaskin told the House.

The Business Minister touted the single window project as one that would reduce corruption and record interference.

He added that his ministry would continue its efforts to help improving the ease with which business is done in Guyana by increasing access to credit by using movable assets. That he said would include the drafting a Moveable Security Act, establishment of a modern electronic registry of moveable property and the training of staff.

Still in the area of easing the hassle of doing business permits, he said collaboration between the Central Housing and Planning Authority, City Engineer’s Department and other agencies would be improved to grant building permits in a timely and efficient manner.