By Bibi Khatoon
As Guyana joins oil-producing nations from next month, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, Portia Simpson-Miller says one of the key areas which should be addressed in the country’s economic plan is inflation.
The former Jamaican leader was the guest speaker at the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (GCCI) annual awards ceremony held at the Marriott Hotel on Thursday night.
Speaking to a room full of businessmen and women, she noted that prices for goods and services must remain low even as the economy grows and major adjustments are made.
The politician, who served as the first female Prime Minister in Jamaica and steered some of that country’s most difficult economic reforms, said managing inflation is something which the Government of the day should address.
“Targeting through fiscal and monetary policies is necessary in ensuring that prices remain low and stable and since inflation is the greatest tax on the poor, probably low inflation is the best gift any Government can give to its people and to its business sector,” she noted.
Simpson-Miller served as Prime Minister of Jamaica from March 2005 to September 2007 and again from 5 January 2012 to 3 March 2016.
She said another aspect to meaningful economic reform is to achieve stability in the foreign exchange market which will also reduce inflationary pressures in the economy.
“This will also assist businesses, especially those that must import to be able to plan their transactions in a stable and predictable environment,” the Jamaican leader added.
She further pointed to the need for public transparency and accountability and changes to the Government’s procurement legislation to enable small businesses the opportunity to bid for Government contracts.
“As your economy improves, it is vital that local businesses are not disadvantaged in participating and prospering,” Simpson-Miller said.
Meanwhile, prior to her speech, President of the GCCI Nicholas Deygoo-Boyer outlined that following the March 2, 2020, general and regional elections, there are certain things which the private sector would like to see implemented by the Government of the day.
Some of his recommendations include the reduction in energy costs, power-purchase agreements, the implementation of a local content policy and legislation, a sovereign wealth fund that is non-partisan, the improvement of the ferry access to Essequibo, international airports in Berbice and Essequibo, completion of the Ogle to Diamond access road, a specialty hospital and improved wages for medical and teaching staff, improved technical education.
In Governance, he pointed to the need for constitutional reform to include term limits for constitutional officeholders and a change in the make-up of the Guyana Elections Commission, improvements in the judicial systems and increased training for police prosecutors.
Boyer alluded to the good ratings the country received in the last International Monetary Fund report but noted that doing business in Guyana is still unnecessarily difficult.
“Guyana is on a growth trajectory but structural reforms are very needed…in order to achieve broad-based and inclusive growth. Broad-based and inclusive growth is extremely important for things like security, if you have growth that causes the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer, then you have insecurity in a nation and a chance for social upheaval,” Boyer noted.
The GCCI is celebrating its 130th anniversary; the organisation which was established in 1889 currently represents over 300 businesses.