Guyanese businesses encouraged to be organised, compliant for emerging ‘big stakes’ transactions
By Kurt Campbell
Oil production offshore Guyana has profoundly transformed the country’s business environment across all sectors with a large influx of foreign investors and big international companies opening locations across the capital, Georgetown.
And while Guyana has now become synonymous with sudden oil wealth on the international stage, domestic opportunities are rife for locals to expand their business and set up new ventures to adapt to the changing dynamics.
The government is keen to ensure local participation but wants citizens to understand their individual roles in ensuring preparedness for the “big league.”
So says the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond under whose remit the development of small business falls.
During 2022, under the direction of the Small Business Bureau (SBB), the government deployed efforts to ensure that emerging and existing small businesses are compliant for graduation for “high stakes” dealings.
“We had to do a lot of work to get Guyanese to understand the benefits of compliance and for them to be certified,” Walrond said Friday during a year-end exclusive with the News Room.
Compliance would see businesses paying their taxes to the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and making financial contributions to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
This amounts to ensuring that the finances of businesses are more organised and there is better record keeping.
“Where Guyana is going is big business. Consortiums are not possible if local businesses are not organised and structured and is registered and compliant…” Walrond said.
She reminded too that the procurement laws of Guyana mandate that businesses must have compliance and consequential failure to do so would see local businesses losing out on opportunities made available by the government.
“We have been trying to send that message to all Guyanese small businesses and they are now understanding that it is a culture that needs to be broken.
“This is the big league and it is not enough to continue operating the way we have,” the Commerce Minister emphasised.
Walrond further stressed that Guyanese businesses must pay more attention to becoming incorporated instead of conducting sole proprietorships; she urged that they become more open to partnerships and less distrusting.
“Traditionally Guyanese are suspicious of partnerships… the President speaks to the private sector about this but we still see reluctance.
“When you look at some companies, it’s usually a one-man kind of operation and we can’t operate like that anymore… there are high stakes now, lots of capital and we have to come together as Guyanese and deal with this distrust of partnerships,” Walrond added.
Altogether, she believes there is enough of the pie for everyone to have, both foreign and local, and said the challenge now is to grow pass the “one man show type of business operations.”