Berbice manufacturers urged to grasp assistance opportunities

By Daniel DaCosta
Stabroek News
March 4, 2000

Manufacturers in Berbice have been urged to take advantage of assistance programmes available through non-reimbursable grants to improve and develop their businesses.

The appeal was made on Monday by Executive Secretary of the Guyana Manufacturers' Association, Inge Nathoo, during a meeting with the Berbice Chamber of Commerce and Development Association (BCC&DA) at the chamber's office in New Amsterdam. Nathoo was accompanied by Vice-President with responsibility for public relations and fund-raising, Norman McLean.

The two executives were in Berbice to initiate discussions on an exhibition and fair involving manufacturers at a date and site yet to be determined. According to McLean, the objective of the event is to expose Guyanese to what local manufacturers are doing and to promote local products. The planned exhibition and fair, he said, will be organised in conjunction with the Berbice and Upper Corentyne Chambers of Commerce. McLean called on the two chambers to work with the GMA to develop local manufacturing.

Nathoo in her remarks informed the businessmen that the GMA was willing to act as a conduit for the two chambers in preparing and submitting proposals seeking funding under the various programmes. Among the programmes through which manufacturers can obtain funding are: the European Union/ACP Business Assistance Scheme (EBAS); the Caribbean Export Competitiveness Fund; the CARIFORUM Agri-Business Research and Training Fund (CARTF) and the Caribbean Regional HRD Programme for Economic Competitiveness (CPEC) of which the GMA is the lead partner.

The CPEC Cdn$5 million programme seeks to improve skills training in forestry and wood products, agro-processing, tourism and other manufacturing with up to Cdn$160,000 per project annually until 2004. The GMA is expected to promote the project among its stakeholders and ensure that funds are used to assist projects which meet stated CPEC objectives.

President of the BCC&DA, Mohamed Raffik, who chaired the mid-morning meeting expressed dissatisfaction over the poor turn out.

"Too many times we depend on government and others for assistance," he said. "Businessmen must get out and access available funding and get up and improve their lot."

Two members of the Upper Corentyne Chamber and five members of the BCC&DA attended the meeting.

Among some of the concerns raised by those present were high interest rates at the commercial banks, a repressive consumption tax regime, rising fuel prices and legal protection for manufacturers. The idea of establishing a development bank in Guyana was also discussed with questions raised over sourcing of financing and interest rates. A GMA delegation will be in Berbice on March 30 and 31, to continue discussions with the two chambers on the proposed exhibition and fair and the assistance programmes.