Written by Royan Abrams
Speaking at the opening of the second West Coast Berbice Expo and Trade Fair at the Bath Community Centre Ground which is being executed by the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce, President David Granger noted that Guyanese have to work to reduce the prices for commodities to compete on the international market.
The Head of State told those gathered in the agriculture based region that “You don’t just produce sugar, and whatever the price is you just go out there and sell it, people would buy cheaper sugar from Vietnam and from Japan and from China and India, we have to produce our commodities more cheaply otherwise we will not be able to compete, whoever in the Government.”
Turning his attention to the sugar industry, President Granger told stakeholders that his Government wants to save the industry, but it must be efficient and competitive. He reassures Berbicians that his administration is not working to destroy the industry but instead working to develop the industry.
Granger alluded to countries such as Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, St Kitts and Nevis, Jamaica and Belize, which have seen their industries contract while some have disappeared completely, because of the high cost of production.
He disclosed that the Government’s aim is to keep three of the current Sugar Estates. “Guyana is trying to preserve the industry, and that is why there will be a Blairmont, and that’s why there is going to be an Albion, and we preserve as many of our plantations and estates as possible, Uitvlugt will remain, but we have to deal with the problem of cost,” he said.
President of the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce, Imran Saccoor, noted that the commercial quarters of region five, not limited to Mahaicony, Bush Lot and Rosignol remains vibrant entities. He said “with the branding of region five and bringing a township it will increase the kind of economic values to the communities. Some persons have also proposed that Rosignol is ‘a ready built’ environment and should be given township status.”
Meanwhile, Regional Chairman, Vichand Ramphal who was also present at the opening of the exposition, related that many of the people in the region had answered Government’s call to produce more and develop cottage industries. However, he pointed out that moves made to increase land rental and drainage and irrigation fees, along with increased prices for agricultural equipment and machinery are significant deterrents.
“In some instances, their lands are being taken away. Also, our brothers and sisters that are employed by the sugar estates are uncertain of their future and their children’s future, we need to lift them up we take to take them through so or region as a whole can move on very strong” he noted. Ramphal is, therefore, asking for some consideration to be given when making decisions which will affect farmers.
The region five Exposition and Trade fair attracted over twenty-seven booths from businesses locally.
It is being held under the theme “Build a diversified economy”
(Photos by Royan Abrams)