If you want to open a shop in Guyana, there is a long list of agencies from whom you have to seek permission. You must have permission from the Central Planning and Housing Authority, be registered as a business with the Deeds Registry; in some cases you need the permission of the fire service not to mention the sanction from your local government body be it a NDC or a town council.
Obtaining all these permits take a lot of time, a great deal of effort and requires expending resources. When you would have obtained the various permits, you still need to apply to the Guyana Revenue Authority for a license. But before you can have this, you have to ensure you have your TIN. If you don’t, then that can mean joining a line.
Doing business in Guyana requires making the rounds. By the time you are finished, you are exhausted and wondering whether it was worth it. You wonder whether it would not have been easier to become a pavement or roadside huckster.
It seems that today it pays to be a street peddler or street vendor as they are called here. You do not experience all the frustrations of obtaining permits. You can set up shop and do not need a licence from the GRA because you are vending.
In fact, right now there is an amazing sight right outside of the GRA head office on Camp Street. Why the GRA decided to consolidate most of their offices at that location is anyone’s guess especially considering that is a busy area and parking was a problem before the GRA moved in, much less now that they are operating full steam from the former Clico palace.
If you wish to secure a parking in front of the new GRA headquarters, you had better meet there early because parking is limited. There is hardly sufficient parking for the GRA staff much less for the public.
The GRA however had a brainwave and decided to arrange for parking in Waterloo Street and along East Street. Somebody needs to remind the GRA that it is in Guyana and very few Guyanese are going to park their vehicles- security or no security- and walk three blocks to the GRA office, much less the longer walk from East Street.
The GRA even resorted to asking the public to park diagonally on the western carriageway of Camp Street so as allow more vehicles to park in the limited parking area alongside the road. However there is one vehicle which is parked every working day outside the GRA. This vehicle is not parked diagonally.
It is an amazing case of Guyanese ingenuity, something that we should attempt to showcase on CNN or the BBC. Right outside of the GRA head office, there is a vehicle like the ones that run mini- bus services on the road way. And you would not believe what is taking place in this “bus”.
In true ingenious Guyanese-style, photocopying and laminating services are being offered from this vehicle, parked outside of the GRA head office. So if per chance you want to have a document photocopied, you do not need to go to the established stationary store not far away. You can have it all done right there in the “minibus.”
And that is not all. They are offering ‘top-up’ also. So if you are out of credit, you can get your credit recharged right there. Guyanese surely know how to seize on a business opportunity.
One has to ask, though, whether in the context of the many mobile shops that are sprouting all over Guyana, whether the GRA has given any consideration to passing legislation that would allow them to have to approve licences for these types of businesses.
It does seem patently unfair for a normal shop owner to have to be subject to all manner of regulations including buying a shop licence when businesses on wheels are now operating not like hucksters but like fixed establishments. It is something worth thinking about!
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