President blazes private sector for failing to readily snatch new opportunities

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President Dr. Irfaan Ali on Friday called out local private sector players for failing to capitalise on many of the new opportunities facilitated by the government.

Discarding his prepared remarks, the President delivered a stinging response to some of the concerns raised by the President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Timothy Tucker at the opening of a business development forum.

Tucker, speaking before the President, acknowledged that some issues were being addressed by the administration but lamented that access to financing remains a huge challenge for local businesses seeking to exploit the abundant opportunities locally.

The GCCI Head also called Guyana’s tax system “primitive”, underscoring that a revitalised taxation system must encourage entrepreneurship and innovation.

President Dr Irfaan Ali addressing the forum on Friday (Photo: News Room/November 11, 2022)

President Ali was eager to respond to the concerns even as he acknowledged that there are issues to be resolved.

“In this country, the easiest thing to do is criticise.

“We have to change the way we think and act and behave. We have to get real in finding solutions,” Dr. Ali said.

According to him, the government brought several international investors, including those from Saudi Arabia and Korea, which were eager to form partnerships with locals.

But, President Ali lamented that no private sector player possessed concrete proposals or feasibility studies to entice those investors.

On the banking side, he reminded local private players that Republic Bank launched a special window project offering US$100 billion in financing for agri-investments. Even with that, he said that the private sector has been failing to capitalise.

Not yet finished, he also tackled concerns about the local tax system

“Why don’t you, Timothy, address compliance?

“Because if everybody paid their fair share, we can talk about (tax) reduction too. We can’t talk about lopsided responsibility, we have to have shared responsibility,” the Head of State said.

Despite his responses, he emphasised that the government wanted to work alongside the local private sector to stimulate economic growth and development in Guyana.

And such, the President offered GCCI and other private sector players skilled personnel who would be able to develop business plans and feasibility studies to capitalise on those opportunities.

Once those documents are developed, he promised that government representatives would accompany private sector players to the local banks to help them secure the financing they are eager to get.

The President also posited that the government is continuously seeking to make business opportunities available to local private sector players. Already, he said more than 420 new, small contractors have been engaged by the government.

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