Private Sector dependent on Govt favours, political connections – report

first_imgGuyana’s Private Sector is dependent on Government favours and patronage and further; the nation’s history of political instability, authoritarian tendencies, and unaccountable Government has meant that the Private Sector often operates at a disadvantage.This is contained in the most recently released international report on Guyana that was prepared for review by International Donor partner, United States Agency for International Development (USAID).Outside of Government, the small businesses that make up Guyana’s Private Sector are major employers, contributing an estimated US.8 million, which gives the Private Sector more access to the Government than regular citizens to lobby for their interests.It was found that while the Private Sector is dependent on Government favours, the Administration is seen more tolerant of criticism.Political connectionsThe report was also critical of the local Chambers of Commerce scattered across the country. According to the USAID commissioned report, Chambers of Commerce seemed to be active in most towns, although their members were only a fraction of the commercial operators in their areas because local businesses do not see the value of joining or paying membership fees.It was observed however that “They were participating with the [Regional Democratic Counicls] RDCs to prepare the regional development plans and had many issues related to governance.”Some of these included the tax system and need for simplification, centralised Government systems, lack of information and data at the local level, and concessions to foreigners but a lack of incentives for local persons to start a business.The report found too that “Chambers of Commerce also complained about the need for political connections, especially for small businesses to get a loan at a bank.”The report documented that while the chambers organised into a Regional Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s with donor support, this body still meets but only intermittently.It was recognised too that despite the limitations, the local Private Sector has demonstrated an interest in, and actively pursues, “a more robust and responsible private media, better physical security, and strong institutions that are transparent and accountable… Business owners, through their associations in chambers of commerce and Private Sector organisations, actively lobby Government on these and other matters and make themselves available to serve on Public Sector boards and constitutional commissions.”Mining corruptionThe role of mining and its contribution to the Guyana economy was also flagged, given its level of importance and it was observed that this industry is plagued by corruption and mismanagement at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).According to the findings of the international report, “Corruption in the sector and mismanagement by GGMC has accompanied increasing problems in the sector… These include environmental degradation, inefficient and unsafe mining operations, and smuggling of gold out of the country.”The mining industry is regulated by the GGMC, which, according to the report “employs a small number of mining officers (300) to inspect and administer thousands of mining operations across difficult to reach hinterland terrain.”It was observed too that there are gaps in the existing laws and regulations, such as how to deal with prospective licences, retention of licences, and the need for a miner identification card.last_img