GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley has reiterated the need for a joint collaborative approach to tackle regional issues such as food production and the supply of other goods and services.
Delivering a virtual address to the 27th annual Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) dinner and awards ceremony on Tuesday night, Mottley urged the manufacturers to use this milestone moment to reflect and where necessary to reset and retool, to further elevate your organisation, your country, and indeed our region.
"I say our region because I truly believe the time is right for a more strategic and collaborative approach on the socio-economic development of the Caribbean," she said.
Mottley, who spoke of the ongoing relationship between Guyana and Barbados in a number of areas, said "the way forward therefore must continue to be paved with our intentions for introspection, innovation, the spirit that sparks partnerships and indeed a willingness to embrace change.
"There will be obstacles, particularly with the global supply disruption chain and that is why I call for just industrial strategy for the global south particularly as we get together to meet our commitments and our capacity in the climate era".
Mottley told the manufacturers that they deserve "every possible success", noting "yours has been a journey that has known both the peaks and troughs and you are now in a position where you shall benefit, we hope from the peaks.
"Let us use this opportunity that you have to ensure that what you do and build is sustainable, not just for this generation of Guyanese people but for many many more generations. Let us use this opportunity to ensure that Guyana anchors regional development along with the rest of us because it is only when we work together and set goals together as we have done with the 25 by 25 agricultural goal (Caricom bid to reduce food import by 25 per cent in 2025)…that we will make it," she said.
"We look forward to a similar programme for industrial development because without that industrial strategy…we will not be able to deliver for our people as they expect us to do," Mottley said.
Earlier, the outgoing GMSA president, Rafeek Khan, urged local consumers to buy more local products, appealing also to the Government to help develop the private sector by investing in research and development and support the international marketing of more products.
"Be patriotic to our locally manufactured products and invest in our manufacturing," he said while citing that import "prime lumber' was being sold at $600 to $700 per BM while ignoring greenheart that was being sold for the same price. He stressed the importance of supporting Guyanese "amazing" products "even if you don't like it".
Khan identified the need for government to inject funds into feasibility studies for innovation, research and development in support of the further development of the private sector.
"In order to innovate, we have got to get research and development happening in our country. Private sector in general has been challenged t0 do research and development on our own. Spending money, marketing and promotion on our own. We want to see more support in research and development," he said.
Khan said it was time Guyana follow in the footsteps of Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and St Lucia by establishing a government-owned export-promotion agency, with private sector representatives on the board, to conduct marketing outreaches and campaigns.
"We need an investment arm, an export arm of Guyana, taking our investment out of the country, taking our manufacturers, exporting into regions, helping with marketing, helping with expos," he said.
In his address to the ceremony, President Dr Irfaan Ali says his Administration has given up billions of dollars (one Guyana dollar = US$0.004 cents) in taxes to assist many companies and other sectors of the economy become more profitable over the past two years.
Ali said that the government opted to remove many taxes in a bid to stimulate further investments that would lead to the growth of companies and various sectors.
He said, for example, the Government relinquished an estimated GUY$21 billion by removing the taxes on fuel, and another five billion dollars by removing freight charges.
"These are the figures. This is not gyaffing anymore, this is getting down to reality," President Ali said, noting that the reality is that these measures were part of a carefully crafted plan to help stimulate economic growth in the non-oil sector, thereby allowing more companies in various sectors to become profitable.
He acknowledged that foregoing these revenues, however, was possible because of Guyana's new pursuits as a nascent oil and gas producer.
"We can only do so because we have an expanded revenue base [with] oil and gas contributing to more revenue so that other sectors can be made more competitive," President Ali said.