Oct 14, 2017 News
By Kiana Wilburg
The stimulation of commerce in Guyana will require more than just a single-pronged approach. For the Ministry of Business, it will take a most detailed strategic plan that spans over five years.
This is according to the Business Minister, Dominic Gaskin.
At the recently concluded Business Summit that was held by the Private Sector Commission (PSC), Gaskin was keen on explaining the role of his relatively new Ministry and its objectives over the next five years.
The Business Minister said that the core of his Ministry comprises a number of departments, key among which are the Departments of Commerce, Industry, Consumer Affairs and Tourism.
He noted that the Ministry is responsible a few semi-autonomous agencies. These include: the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission; Guyana National Bureau of Standards; Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest); the Small Business Bureau; and the Guyana Tourism Authority.
Gaskin expressed that the vision for the Ministry is based on “increased living standards for all Guyanese in a diverse and green economy”. He said that this speaks to a good life, a diversified economy and a green agenda.
Additionally, the Business Minister said that the work of the Ministry is guided by a five-year plan that covered from 2010 to 2016. He said that there are four key objectives that are to be met through a range of activities to be undertaken.
Those key objectives are: to increase sustainable private sector investment, improve the business environment, increase value-added production and exports and Support Micro- and Small-enterprise and entrepreneurship
As it relates to the current activities of the Ministry, Gaskin said that these include: Construction and development of two new industrial estates, upgrade and regularization of existing industrial estates, construction of two business incubators, the setting up of the Guyana National Bureau of Standards laboratory project, the drafting of a National Export Strategy and a National Investment Strategy, and the development of Building Codes.
He shared, too, that the Ministry is involved in drafting several policies including the National Tourism Policy, the Small and Micro-enterprise policy, the National Entrepreneurship Policy, and a concept paper on the designation of special economic zones, in which the Ministry is proposing a study be undertaken.
Additionally, Gaskin shared that the Ministry is involved in the development of the Small Business Procurement Programme. It is even in collaboration with the Deeds Registry and the Region Nine Chamber of Commerce for the processing of business licences and the registration of businesses.
The Minister stated that efforts are already moving apace to collaborate with the Ministries of Finance and Public Infrastructure on the drafting of a Public Private Partnership (P3) Framework. He noted that the Ministry is also working on the establishment of a Single Window Automated Processing System, as well as the drafting of a Doing Business Action Plan, which includes the allocation of lands for industrial and agricultural use.
As it relates to the construction and development of two new industrial estates at the Lethem and Belvedere, Gaskin said that these are scheduled to be completed next year.
“We are developing a prospectus for promoting the estates, particularly the Lethem Estate which is a much larger project with broader strategic objectives. We are also upgrading the existing estates at Coldingen and Eccles.”
The Minister noted that Coldingen has just had two new access bridges built.
“We are in the process of regularizing the occupation of both estates and placing them under an enhanced management system. They have both become free-for-alls, and this is defeating the purpose of developing these areas,” the Business Minister asserted.
According to Minister Gaskin, this is an initiative which the Ministry will be introducing on the two new industrial estates in order to support micro- and small-enterprise development.
He said that temporary occupancy of these incubator facilities will allow for rapid growth and development in an enabling environment, following which the business will have leave the incubator and go out on their own, freeing up space for the next person.
Gaskin also shared that the small business bureau will develop the programme with the help of an incubator specialist, provided by Cuso International, a non-profit development organization, which is already here. He said, too, that the Department of Industry is undertaking the actual construction.
Additionally, the Minister said that he and his team are also working on enhancing the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) for Economic Diversification and Trade Promotion.
This is a US$9.2 Million project funded through a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank. It has three components: the construction of a laboratory and testing facility for the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, the drafting of a national export strategy and the drafting of National Investment Promotion Strategy to be implemented by GO-Invest.
Gaskin said that what this translates to is a project designed to attract investments in key value-added industries and support these with a national export strategy combined with internationally recognized quality certification from accredited testing facilities.
With regards to the draft Public Private Partnership Policy, Gaskin revealed that assistance has been received from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to develop this Framework.
The Business Minister noted that the P3 is a useful mechanism for financing and developing public projects. He noted, however, that attempting to implement a P3 outside of clear guidelines can be a recipe for disaster.
Gaskin explained that this policy will aid Government’s efforts to accelerate an infrastructure development programme which in turn will improve the nation’s competitiveness.
Furthermore, the Business Minister noted that a multi-agency working group (GO-Invest, Public Infrastructure, and the Ministry of Finance) has already been established to oversee the process as well as work with the CDB and other institutions to complete the framework.
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