The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) yesterday pledged its continued support to the Private Sector Commission (PSC), at a signing ceremony which took place at PSC boardroom.
During brief remarks, PSC Chairman Ramesh Dookhoo said that on January 15, 2001, the Private Sector Commission and CIDA entered into a contribution agreement in which CIDA would fund the development of the analytical capacity of the PSC.
He added that from 2001 to the present, the commission has gone through many changes based on the socio-political environment that exists in Guyana at any given time.
According to Dookhoo, CIDA has over the years been able to exercise flexibility in its support for the commission, based on the changing nature of the environment.
Key to their support at this time is the completion of all 122 steps to give credence to the National Competitiveness Strategy.
Support for the commission in the areas of corporate governance and taxation reform is key to making Guyana a preferred destination for investors, he said.
This agreement, he added, has been extended twice so far, and has allowed the Private Sector Commission to make a meaningful contribution to Government decision making.
Dookhoo said that it has allowed for the private sector to have a greater understanding of economic issues and to increase the awareness amongst its member bodies of national issues.
“Our goal is to eventually achieve a convergence of views on national issues through the Public/Private Dialogue process set up by the NCC.
“This support from CIDA has enabled the PSC to take on a greater role, and has culminated in the signing of a partnership agreement with the Government on the National Competitiveness Strategy.”
With the approval of this new three-year extension to the contribution agreement, CIDA has shown its commitment to the development of a strong private sector in Guyana, Dookhoo contended.
According to him, the extension comes at a time when the role of the private sector has been expanded and there is increasing collaboration with Government and other stakeholders.
He also said that the goal of CIDA’s assistance to the private sector is “to foster a better enabling environment for Guyana’s private sector, in order to improve competitiveness and contribute to increased economic growth and poverty reduction.”
Dookhoo thanked the Government of Canada for the opportunity that the funding provides for PSC to make a greater contribution to the development of Guyana.
Mr. Charles Court signed the agreement on behalf of the Canadian Government.
He said that Canada has made relations with the Americas, and with the Caribbean in particular, one of its three top foreign policy priorities.
Court added that this priority has been backed up with a new CIDA programme of $600 million over ten years, agreement to CARICOM’s proposal to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement, an annual leadership forum, a new Caribbean scholarship program, and other initiatives.
“One of the key pillars of the strategy for the Caribbean is supporting economic growth and the private sector.”
According to him, the extension of the partnership with the Private Sector Commission is intended to build its capacity to encourage the adoption of policies that favour growth in domestic and foreign investments in the economy of Guyana.
“As well,” he added, “we want to see growth and investment increase throughout the Caribbean.
“Our support for the PSC should help link its efforts to those of other groups in the region. In particular, we are working to bring together a Canada-CARICOM Private Sector Forum in Trinidad in November.”
Since the partnership was launched in 2001, Court said, some significant steps have been made, often with considerable input from the PSC.
“The adoption of the National Competitiveness Strategy and the creation of the National Competitiveness Council were important developments.
The continuation of the Canada-PSC partnership is intended to support the PSC’s active and effective participation in the National Competitiveness Council.”
Court indicated his appreciation of the efforts made by the NCC to keep donors and the public well-informed about the work it is doing.
According to him, strategies and consultations are important, but actions and decisions are what make a difference.
“Canada has traditionally been an important source of investment in Guyana. This week alone, I have met two groups who are beginning business relationships with partners in this country.”
He also noted that the High Commission will be running a seminar on doing business in Canada, in Georgetown in November. This will be the second such event in as many years.
Guyana’s exports to Canada have grown. Gold is the largest export, and it grew by 33 per cent last year, he pointed out.
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