The British High Commission has urged Government to team up with the business sector to tackle corruption.
Speaking at Monday’s Annual General Meeting of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), High Commissioner Greg Quinn explained that alongside legislation there are also issues around perceptions of corruption and the ease of doing business.
In recent years, Guyana has seen a steady improvement in the Transparency International (TI) Corruptions Perception Index.
“In 2012 the score was 28 out of 100. In 2018 it was 37 out of 100 (sadly this was a 1 point drop on 2017 but TI noted that Guyana was one of the significant improvers overall).”
Consecutive governments have been dogged by accusations of corruption and of doing little to halt it.
According to Quinn, the TI figures put Guyana in joint 93rd position (out of 180 countries measured) with the Gambia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Mongolia and Panama.
“Some progress is being made. But there is much that still needs to be done. Only the Dominican Republic and Haiti in the Caribbean region are lower than Guyana. The average score for all countries was 43. Anything below 50 indicates a failure to tackle corruption. More than two-thirds of the countries measured scored below 50.”
Quinn admitted that the Corruptions Perceptions Index evokes strong feelings among the business community.
“Many find fault with the methodology and the results. But be that as it may, the Transparency International index is globally accepted and is looked at by investors who want to do business in a country.”
He urged that the Government, in cooperation with the private sector, work together to continue to address this issue and to tackle corruption, wherever it is found, head on.
According to the High Commissioner, this also feeds into the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business scores.
“Whilst there were some improvements, Guyana dropped from 126 to 134 in the latest report published in October 2018. That was extremely unfortunate and indicates that there is still much work to be done. Guyana is below the regional average.”
According to the envoy, tellingly, the biggest drop from the previous year’s score was in the area of ‘Getting Electricity’.
“Something I am sure many of you in this room will agree with. Let me also take the opportunity to note the recent IDB report on ‘Constraints Affecting Guyana’s Private Sector: Survey Results’ which notes that electricity, high taxes and corruption are ranked the most serious obstacles to local businesses.
Ensuring businesses can operate (whilst also meeting necessary legislation) is key to economic growth. Bureaucracy must be reduced and the ability of entrepreneurs to set up businesses must be made easier.”
He said that entrepreneurship is the driver of the private sector.
“Entrepreneurs are the incubators of innovation. They must be encouraged. Guyana’s scores on the Ease of Doing Business Index suggest much still has to be done. I believe the Minister of Business is committed to doing what he can. We must all do what we can to support him.”
He said that the GCCI and its members have a role to play in driving forward the economy of Guyana.
“The public sector has a role to play, but ultimately the success of an economy is very much dependent on how well the private sector performs. However, the best way of ensuring this is with a strong partnership between the public and private sector. Both must come together and work together for the benefit of Guyana.
The relationship must be cordial and constructive. It is surely to everyone’s benefit that that happens.”
Quinn stressed that Chambers of Commerce have an important role to play.
“They are the supporters and advocates of business. They work for you (and you must ensure they do!), but they are only as strong as their members. So it is up to you to help ensure your Chamber is as strong as possible. Able to represent your interests to central government, other chambers, businesses and whomever else you might come into contact with.”
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