By Bibi Khatoon
The need for political stability to encourage investment in Guyana was highlighted by President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Deodat Indar, but this did not sit well with the country’s Business Minister who immediately told the business community to stick to its role and stay out of politics.
“I am not here looking for political support because I believe the private sector should concentrate on business and stay out of politics,” Minister Dominic Gaskin told a room filled with businesspersons and other officials from the private sector Friday.
He was at the time delivering his address at the launch of the GCCI’s Business Development Forum 2018 at the Savannah Suite, Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown.
In the same breath, however, the Minister told the entrepreneurs that they should only steer clear of politics until it is time for the country’s elections as political parties will need their funding.
“…At least until elections season comes around when you can decide which parties you want to support or which candidates you want to fund because funding is, of course, a very key component of the election campaigning process,” the Business Minister noted.
His comments were met with some blank stares from the crowd while others applauded.
Prior to the Minister’s speech, the GCCI’s President noted that political stability provides an enabling environment for businesses to prosper.
“Political stability is one that guides investment. It guides investment…when as a business person you are making sizeable decisions for investment, stability must be a main ingredient,” Indar stated.
The Chartered Accountant explained that business persons are always interested in whether their venture will be secure in the long term.
But the Business Minister disagreed that there is political instability in Guyana and noted that the country has been enjoying political stability “for some time now,” and that politics should not drive growth.
Gaskin, however, contended that for too long “we have blamed bad politics in Guyana for bad business practices.”
He sought to compare Guyana with other countries which he said suffers from worse political climates but continue to enjoy the confidence of their private sectors and thereby enjoying strong economic growth.
“Let the private sector do what it does best – compete, comply and get compensated,” the Minister told the gathering of approximately 100 persons.
The GCCI’s Business Development Forum 2018 seeks to facilitate partnerships between businesses as well as address some of the issues experienced by the business sector.
The event is geared at preparing local companies for the upcoming Guyana Trade and Investment Exhibition GuyTie, a new forum which seeks to promote local investment opportunities.
Also addressing the opening ceremony was Country Representative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Sophie Makonnen who pointed to the developing oil and gas sector and the need for businesses to be competitive.
“The question is how you in the private sector, and the small businesses, manage this crossroad and what should be your role to navigate it,” Makonnen said.
She pointed out that it is the business sector which has a major role to play in successfully pushing this sector to prosperity but at the same time developing other sectors.