GMSA President appeals to consumers, government to support local manufacturing

Last Updated on Tuesday, 29 November 2022, 21:08 by Denis Chabrol

Outgoing President of the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), Rafeek Khan on Tuesday urged Guyanese consumers to buy more local products, even as he also appealed to the government to help develop the private sector by investing in research and development and support the international marketing of more products.

“Be patriotic to our locally manufactured products and invest in our manufacturing,” he said while citing that import “prime lumber’ was being sold at $600 to $700 per BM while ignoring greenheart that was being sold for the same price. He stressed the importance of supporting Guyanese “amazing” products “even if you don’t like it”

He issued the calls in an address to the GMSA’s 27th Annual Awards presentation ceremony that was held at the Princess Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara and attended by a number private sector executives, diplomats and government ministers.

The GMSA President identified the need for government to inject funds into feasibility studies for innovation, research and development in support of the further development of the private sector. “In order to innovate, we have got to get research and development happening in our country. Private sector in general has been challenged t0 do research and development on our own. Spending money, marketing and promotion on our own. We want to see more support in research and development,” he said.

Mr Khan said it was time Guyana follow in the footsteps of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia by establishing a government-owned export-promotion agency, with private sector representatives on the board, to conduct marketing outreaches and campaigns. “We need an investment arm, an export arm of Guyana, taking our investment out of the country, taking our manufacturers, exporting into regions, helping with marketing, helping with expos,” he said. He noted that the New Guyana Marketing Corporation was engaged in such activities in the agricultural sector. Mr Khan lamented that the Forest Products Marketing Council of the Guyana Forestry Commission has not been conducting any visible marketing, as well as there is a similar void to be filled in pharmaceutical, services and indigenous products.

He encouraged Guyanese to invest in businesses even though they would not necessarily see the returns within a short period of time.

While the GMSA President welcomed the Local Content Act, he said there was need for unbundling of contracts in the oil and gas sector. “I know its difficult to unbundle contracts. I know its easier to give one company a contract and that company gives it to other companies but I would like us to take a keen look at unbundling because unbundling of contracts allows for smaller businesses to grow,” he said.

Mr Rafeek urged India and China, through their High Commissioner and Ambassador who were present at the awards ceremony, to buy Guyana’s manufactured products “without charging taxes”. He also wants businesses from those two Asian nations to sell shares to Guyanese businesses.

The event was also addressed virtually by Barbados’ Prime Minister Mia Mottley reiterated the need for a joint collaborative approach to tackle regional issues such food production and the supply of other goods and services.