GMSA, private sector encouraged to play their part in realising the vision of the GSDS
DPI, GUYANA, Wednesday, March 28, 2018
The new economic trajectory outlined in the objectives and principles embodied in the Green State Development Strategy (GSDS) document, being crafted through broad consultations with all stakeholders, is crucial to Guyana’s transformation to a diversified and green economy.
This was expressed by Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, who was addressing the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association’s (GMSA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) today at the Pegasus Hotel.
In this vein, the minister encouraged the GMSA to remain engaged and continue to contribute to the development of the GSDS and the realisation of the vision it proposes.
Elaborating on the vision of the GSDS, Minister Harmon said the core principles of the GSDS is to seek to reorient and diversify the economy, to reduce the country’s reliance on the traditional sectors, and to create new sustainable income and investment opportunities, through value-added endeavours and high-growth sectors.
“The Strategy [GSDS] will set the foundation for inclusive, green, economic and social growth, create the framework for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] and provide the basis for a prosperous and secure future for all Guyanese.”
The pursuit of this objective, the State Minister underscored, is an innovative one, however, this cannot be the sole responsibility of the Government but that of every citizen including the GMSA.
Reference was made to an address by President David Granger at GUYEXPO 2016, who in recognition of the importance of the manufacturing and services sector, stated, “ I do believe that, if GUYEXPO is to play a role in changing and transforming our economy, we have to think seriously about using this exhibition as a laboratory or a forum for value added…if the private sector sees itself as the engine of growth it must be committed to more than just buying and selling, it must be committed to more than trading, it must be committed to adding value to Guyanese products, it must be committed to revitalising of our manufacturing sector.”
Minister Harmon, speaking directly to the members of the GMSA, suggested that the entity becomes more innovative as it relates to the techniques and technology they apply in their production processes to ensure sustainable use of raw materials, while simultaneously seeking to lower production costs through the use of renewable energy sources.
To facilitate this process, the Cabinet has agreed to the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Roundtable in collaboration with the GMSA, “to develop methods and initiatives to stimulate growth in the manufacturing and services sector.”
The granting of incentives to the private sector, the State Minister noted, is demonstrative of the Government’s efforts to accelerate growth within the manufacturing and service sector.
Some of these include tax exemptions for companies importing ‘green’ equipment and the increase in the rebate granted by the Guyana Power and Light Incorporated (GPL) from 10 percent to 15 percent effective from April 2016.
Further, Minister Harmon said Government will be taking stringent steps to halt the dumping of sub-standard goods on the local market but pointed out that the Government is often castigated by the private sector when these measures are enforced.
This was in response to a comment by PSC Executive Member, Ramesh Dookhoo, who made reference to the failure to enact anti-dumping legislation.
The State Minister said Government, through the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission, will be working to enforce the Consumer Protection Act to protect consumers from errant private sector companies.
Meantime, President of the GMSA, Shyam Nokta, in his presentation, acknowledged that to overcome the existing barriers in the manufacturing sector, there needs to be strategic engagement with the Government.
Mention was made of the Ministerial Roundtable with Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan and a team from his ministry, where a sector by sector focus was adopted commencing with the Forestry and Wood-processing sectors.
Nokta said the GMSA used that opportunity to offer a comprehensive overview of the sectors, pointing out their challenges and offering recommendations for Government’s intervention.
This was followed up with the GMSA engaging the Finance Ministry in the Budget 2018 Consultation, where proposals included measures covering issues such as taxation and energy.
“In examining Budget 2018, the GMSA is pleased that several measures that were advocated for the forestry and wood-processing sector have been adopted, perhaps an indication that the Roundtable discussions made some progress,” he noted.
Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Edward Boyer in brief remarks said the GMSA has been pivotal to local manufacturers and will become increasingly important as the oil and gas sector develops.
“We are at an important stage in our own manufacturing process and we are being asked to quickly meet international standards. If we are to compete with international companies, we have to do so. The GMSA is there to provide the assistance and bring together the skills available to make such a venture a success for the Guyanese manufacturers.”
He too underscored the need for a concerted effort to address the issues of smuggling and dumping of inferior products.
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, High Commissioner of India Venkatachalam Mahalingam, and other members of the PSC, GMSA, and business community were in attendance at the AGM.
By: Stacy Carmichael