Dec 05, 2021 News
…locals must ‘pool resources in order to compete’ –Pres. Ali tells manufacturers
Kaieteur News – In recent weeks, months and even years, there has been growing discontent among some in the local business community over the proliferation of foreign companies operating locally, particularly in the extractive industries namely gold and forestry, and more recently, the oil and gas sector.
To this end, Head-of-State, President Irfaan Ali, has charged local manufacturers to not be distracted by those foreign companies perceived to be eating away at the local content ‘slice of the pie,’ but to instead focus on coming together and building their capacity, even if through strategic partnerships with foreign companies.
The President was at the time delivering the keynote address to the Guyana Manufacturers and Services Association (GMSA), 26th Annual Presentation of Awards Ceremony, held at the Ramada Princess Hotel, East Bank Demerara (EBD), under the theme, “Changing the paradigm for advancing sustainable industry transformation and growth.”
Addressing the gathering in the context of its stated theme, the President was adamant, the focus of the manufacturing community should be on growing and bridging the existing gaps.
“Not talking about who is coming in and going out, let us not wrap ourselves around that; let us identify the gaps and then let us position ourselves strategically, to see who are the partners we need to come on board to fill that gap,” according to President Ali.
To this end, he questioned and called on the GMSA and other private sector leaders, to take on a bigger role in building domestic capacity.
Calling for a SWOT (strength weaknesses, opportunity and threat) analysis of the capacity of the domestic manufacturing industry, President Ali was adamant, the GMSA needs to identify, “what the gaps are and how do we fill those gaps.”
He qualified his position by saying, “in a system, once the gap is recognised, you would know that we don’t have the capacity in certain areas but we are not going to lie down and say we don’t have the capacity. We are taking it step by step, strategic partnership, bridging the gap and then building the strategic outcome.”
To this end, the Head-of-State, cited as example manufacturing and machining and questioned, “How many small machine shops we have across the country,” and suggested “this is where critical thinking comes in.”
Recognising the GMSA’s lamentations over challenges faced by small and medium size business, President Ali observed, “…if we have 25 small and medium sized machining companies that can come together and bring their resources together and create one large machining shop that can take the jobs that big industry are taking; that immediately takes the country at another scale.”
According to President Ali, “Yes, the family businesses are good but times are changing, circumstances are changing and if 10 small businesses can come together and take away 35 percent or 30 percent share in that market, aren’t they better off?”
Such a situation, he said, will create, a “better competitive advantage” for locals, “so you have to turn yourselves into corporations.”
Again addressing the GMSA’s theme, President Ali suggested, “…it begs some strategic questions and require some strategic action.”
To this end, he questioned whether it was a case of domestic industries being positioned currently in such a way that there is a likelihood that they will not be sustainable and “if that is the case then what are the inputs that we are going to put in place to make them sustainable, or is it for them to be sustainable, some changes are required.”
He also questioned whether as manufacturers, “we are agreeing that some changes are required and we are agreeing that for these changes to be sustainable all of us in this room will have to do a frank and honest evaluation.”
The President in recommending a frank introspection of the domestic capacity to handle the coming demands, questioned, “…can we do it alone, do we require partnership and who are those strategic partners?”
To this end, he reminded, “our local content (legislation) is coming but I want to ask a very important question, have the manufacturers as a whole met and did an honest evaluation as to what are the industries that are to be sustainable?”
According to President Ali, while sometimes individually, “we are satisfied with a small share—in Guyana we say, eat little and live long—it’s not about being satisfied with the small share, it’s missing out on opportunities, so in changing the paradigm, we have to look at the outlook.”
He was adamant, “at the end of the day, we have to build one common theme in this country, we are all winners, we are in this to win, (and) we have to develop a winning culture.”
To this end, President Ali enquired of the manufacturers, “do we see ourselves as competitors or members of a manufacturing industry who know they will have to come together…if we want to win, we have to come together and build the capacity and industry.”
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