Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin on Thursday declared 2015 as a challenging year for business in Guyana but added that he is optimistic that with the dawn of a new year on the horizon, the country’s economy is poised to rebound.
While addressing the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (GCCI) 126th Gala Dinner, Gaskin admitted to receiving an abundance of reports from retailers of a slowdown in sales.
He said too that it is a known fact that the country’s exports have also taken a beating this year with slowed performance in several sectors including gold, rice, bauxite, fisheries and forestry which have all shown a decline in first half of this year when compared to last year
“In a nutshell we need to keep increasing the amount of money entering the economy if we want it to keep growing. Exports do bring money into our economy and therefore when our exports are down our economy will feel it,” Gaskin told the room full of businessmen and women along with members of the diplomatic community.
He said while there is nothing that can be done to influence global commodity prices, there is a need for good understanding between the public and private sector on what Guyana’s national priorities are if the country is to ensure that its main foreign exchange earners remain viable.
“The government has signaled its intention to make the necessary investment to make Guyana attractive for investors in infrastructure and energy,” Gaskin added, as he outlined the need for a more efficient transportation network.
Minister Gaskin used the opportunity to point out the methods through which other small and developing countries around the world have been able to make its export commodities relevant on the global market and said there is absolutely nothing stopping Guyana from doing the same.
“We have heard too often that Guyana’s population is too small for certain things to works here but what has stopped these other countries?” Gaskin asked.
He said the government will continue to make Guyana a good place to do business and expects the private sector in turn to make the necessary investments.
The Chamber presented several awards to its members last night and Gaskin said he was personally impressed with the work of the Chamber and how it has evolved in many areas of business development. “I believe it will continue to make a valuable contribution to the Guyanese economy.”
GCCI’s President Lance Hinds said the Chamber has always seen it as important to salute business that performed exceptionally. “No doubt our environment has some challenges and those companies who continue to push ahead must be honored,” he said.
Hinds too expressed optimism that with a new government in place and the potential to benefit from large depository of oil in the future the Guyana economy will rise again. He also impressed upon members of the business community, the responsibility which they have to ensure the promise of a bright future is realized.
Hinds spoke of the need for the government and private sector to work together and the modernizing of key pieces of legislation.