On the right course

Guyana Chronicle
October 14, 1999

THERE was great interest in President Bharrat Jagdeo's planned summit with the business community and the reactions so far to the convening of the forum in Georgetown on Monday have been upbeat.

The business summit followed through on the President's promise, shortly after he assumed office, to try to reach "common understanding of trade and investment issues".

He had expected to flow from the meeting "concrete policies to stimulate private sector investment and growth for the creation of wealth and jobs."

In his plan to introduce a "more comfortable environment for our people and foreigners" to invest in the development of the country, President Jagdeo, when he assumed office on August 11 last, said: "I intend to do so with the full partnership of the major players in the society - the private sector, the labour movement and civic society."

And all the evidence, so far, is that he is on the right course.

The private sector players are among the more enthusiastic and the business community was out in force for the Monday summit.

They went there full of expectations and did not leave without greater expectations.

At the opening, the President promised them more incentives but urged business people to develop new ways of thinking, so that the country's resources can be best used to the benefit of its people.

He announced new incentives the Government intended to bring on stream immediately to further aid private sector development, including reducing royalties on gold to four per cent if prices fall below US$280, and to three per cent below US$265; and tax holidays on the importation of information technology items for the next five years.

Head of the Private Sector Commission, Mr. George Jardim called for mutual trust between the two sides at the opening ceremony, stating that everything was possible if the Government could take on board the vision and needs of businessmen and provide an understanding and nurturing environment.

Both sides seemed pleased with what they were able to achieve by the end of this historic business summit, the progress reflected in a joint communique.

They seem set on the right course and it is to be hoped that concrete steps on this firm foundation are not far off.

The important element is that the critical mutual trust is being forged and when hard-nosed businessmen seeking more favourable conditions hail an event as a `success story', hopes for optimism seem so much more alive.

Those responsible for bringing off this historic business summit have much to be satisfied for and we join in saluting their sterling efforts.

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Guyana: Land of Six Peoples