The Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce recently launched the 16th Berbice Expo and Trade Fair in Rose Hall Town with a focus on small businesses and the difficulty of starting up new business ventures in Berbice.
Launched under the theme: “Promoting a favourable business and investment climate”, the Regional Chairman, David Armogan, during his address to the business community in attendance underscored the need for a hassle-free investment climate for investors looking to start their businesses in Berbice and Guyana in general. He mentioned that for such to take shape he had suggested to the former Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, who was also present at the launch, that an agency should be put in place by the Business Ministry for small businesses.
“That agency must be a one-stop-shop agency where you can have all the different licences and so processed within about a month. It takes time for small businesses to get moving with all the places that they need approval from that sometimes pushes to a whole year. We need to be able to make the system easier for people to invest in our region,” he stated.
Referencing the theme for this year’s expo, Armogan said the investment climate in Berbice can’t be considered conducive since more needs to be done “to bring Berbice back to what it was a few years ago”.
Rounding off his point, Armogan spoke about the existing businesses in Berbice with his attention turned to Agriculture in the region. While noting that “Agriculture has been the mainstay of the economy with persons depending on the industry for sustenance,” he observed that “over the past two years Agri. has taken a beating.”
He added that “with sugar almost dissolved and the rice industry not doing well in the region due to the paddy bug infestation which has hampered development”, farmers have been complaining that they have loans to pay and financially it has been a strain.
Armogan, in closing, congratulated the Chamber for another bold step and continuing with the expo, an event, he said, is an important medium to showcase “what we have but it is also an event that brings our people together regardless of the racial and social backgrounds of everyone.”
Meanwhile, Dominic Gaskin, in response to Armogan explained that while there is work that still needs to be done to reduce the bureaucracy in the business community to have a favourable business climate “persons have to take it seriously, only then will it attract investment that will ultimately create the jobs and opportunities to garner revenue to run the country.”
Gaskin said too, “corruption is still at a stage where it is affecting legitimate businesses so there are many areas that need to be functioning smoothly if we are to make businesses in Guyana profitable.”
He also agreed with the Chairman that small businesses should not be subjected to the long processes but pointed out that such a system was inherited “and over the last 50 years we have not done enough to deal with it and fix it.”
President of the Chamber and businessman, Mohammed Raffik, during a brief address recalled that the Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, had announced that there was a four percent growth in the economy but in a survey done by their Chamber, showed differently. He added that the business community in Berbice actually said there was a sloth or drop in business.
Raffik also touched on the oil and gas sector and said that the country is heading for “exciting times” and as such, there should be understanding and a temperament of expectation. He added, “the first few years will not be nothing much to shout about but I am urging the government to have all the regulations and regulatory bodies in place.”
The Berbice Expo and Trade Fair will run from the 27th – 30th of September. Entry fees for adults and children remain the same as the previous year’s expo. It is expected that that monies garnered from the fair would go to the development of schools and community projects in the region.
Recently, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Chamber and the Rose Hall Town Council to develop a play field.
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