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Apr 01, 2011 News
President Bharrat Jagdeo has predicted that the country will have an acute labour shortage in the next five years if the economy continues to grow at the present rate.
With this in mind his administration is moving to within weeks commence the issuing of visas on arrival in Guyana to foreigners who come here to seek employment.
The President made the position clear during his feature address yesterday at the 121st Annual General Meeting of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), which was held at Duke Lodge, Kingston.
Jagdeo told the gathering of mainly businessmen that while many persons would claim that Guyana has a major unemployment problem, the fact is that many skilled persons are leaving these shores, thereby creating a void on the labour market.
“If we don’t fill that gap the private sector will suffer.”
To this end, the Guyanese leader also announced that the government will be granting an automatic three-year work permit to facilitate the recruitment of specialised skills.
“We need to make things easier in this country for people to come here, but we will not neglect our people,” he told the gathering, while welcoming the partnership that the government enjoys with the Private Sector.
The government-Private Sector partnership success was also highlighted by both the President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Komal Ramnauth, and Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Ramesh Dookhoo.
According to the two top Private Sector leaders, the partnership with the government has created a better environment for businesses locally.
Ramnauth said that it was through partnership with the government that the lowering of Corporate Tax and the increasing of the tax threshold were achieved.
Ramnauth noted that the GCCI recorded another successful year in 2010, adding that the entity has remained self-sufficient when their counterparts in some developed countries are heavily subsidized by their governments.
The introduction of the Business Guyana Magazine in June last year as well as the Chamber’s online advertising network and the Code of Conduct are some of the other significant achievements in 2010.
The GCCI President disclosed that the entity will be embarking on the refurbishing of its secretariat and a comprehensive membership drive.
There is no doubt that Guyana’s economy has grown and according to Jagdeo, this means that there will be more scope for businesses.
However, he underscored that there will be many challenges, because there will be greater competition, which will create an environment that will require business owners to be much more nimble to remain competitive.
The President said that because consumers are more discerning today, they will want better levels of service, hence the need for businesses to improve their infrastructure. He added that the private sector should lead the initiative to upgrade without government input.
According to Jagdeo, Georgetown has changed dramatically over the years, moving from one of the most rundown cities to one that is now using 4-G technology.
He lashed out at the Mayor and City council for not doing its part to maintain the momentum of business growth.
“The administration of the city has not kept pace with the development that has taken place. I would like to see the city managed professionally… not the PNC, PPP and GGG rambling at each other.”
He pointed to several initiatives that the government is embarking on to match the growth of the Private Sector.
Among these is the network of surveillance cameras around the city that will provide security for many in the Private Sector and their customers.
“Unfortunately we can’t work with the city council the way we want. They are not result-oriented. Their meetings last days, while my Cabinet meetings last four hours,” President Jagdeo stated.
He disclosed that the administration intends to remove the buraucracy at the Customs and Trade Administration, since with the Value Added Tax, which leaves an audit trail, liberalisation at Customs is possible.
“I want to thank the government for the lowering of the Corporate Tax… This will have a positive spin-off effect,” said PSC Chairman Ramesh Dookhoo.
He asserted that his organization has been working closely with the GCCI, and encouraged that body to look at proposals that would make it compulsory that businesses join the chamber, which will speak with one voice on behalf of business.
Dookhoo also urged that Chamber members become volunteers as a part of an observer body for the upcoming general elections.
The GCCI was founded as the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce in 1889 and incorporated in 1890.
Its mission is “to promote and protect local, regional and foreign trade and create a business environment that sustains economic vitality and promotes economic and social development”.
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