Looking out for the new stock market To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
May 24, 2002

Related Links: Letters on economic concerns
Letters Menu Archival Menu

What a difference prayer, patience and practical steps can make in the midst of attempts at political turmoil and social upheaval?

What started out as a simple pause by the PNC/R in the dialogue process and seemed headed for street-based volcanic fulmination over government's failure to honour agreements, now appears to be petering out with tepid accusations and allegations by the PNC/R.

Even the inhumane, racially motivated murders, whether allegedly or actually politically inspired, are beginning to lose their intended effect on wider society. Guyanese of all races do not like it and will not openly support it. There may be other acts of seemingly politically inspired criminal violence, no doubt, but the whole attempt at spreading evil in the name of rights and justice has been a flop.

Not for a lack of prayer by those who know their God has power over evil forces. Not for a lack of patience by the Guyana Government as it apparently opted to wearily wait for answers and solutions, rather than whip up its constituents into a frenzy of counter violence.

And certainly not for a lack of practical steps taken by alleged poor and marginalized Afro-Guyanese particularly to, first, recognize that although they may feel marginalized, getting involved in street protests, prone to turn violent and destructive, will not readily alter their circumstances given the general economic situation. And second, to stay away in large numbers from street protests thus sending a strong message that says to the PNC/R, "We may have voted for you, but we do not like your way of doing business in our name. Either you change your thinking and approach now or your leadership and vision, sooner than later."

Meanwhile, the first half of the year is a month shy of ending, and the need for stocktaking to determine achievements could not be more obvious. It also would be an ideal time to determine adjustments for the second half by all the primary players responsible for ensuring the ship of state sails on an even keel.

Earlier this year, the Guyana Government promised to launch the local stock market by June. It could be the next major development with a brighter side in Guyana. Unlike all other accusations and allegations about government's failure to honour its commitments with the PNC/R, this particular commitment to the private sector and private citizens who have the resources to invest has to be honoured to help begin reversing the perception of a downward slide of public confidence in government as the ultimate authority responsible for assuring, not necessarily engineering, social and economic stability and progress.

One of the PNC/R's persistent charges against government is the plight of the poor and marginalized Afro-Guyanese, but while there also are many Indo-Guyanese whose socioeconomic circumstances are no different from most

Afro-Guyanese, the ball is in the government's court to ensure the framework exists for socioeconomic recovery and growth. Establishing and maintaining such a framework could only help provide needed social stability and take the wind out of the PNC/R's sail on this particular charge.

The launching of the local stock market, within such a framework, finally will open up Guyana to local and foreign investment first, by Guyanese at home and abroad, then by foreigners, in local public traded companies.

The local private sector has to be ready with at least a preliminary list of local companies that are interested in making the launching a historic and memorable one. Representatives from CARICOM and Europe's central banks, and the NYSE ought to be invited for this ceremonial launching. Rules and regulations governing the system's operations ought to be clearly written.

Insurance coverage, even if limited, should be well noted. Research data into companies' backgrounds and claims to fortunes and rewards should be readily available to investors. Extensive use of the electronic and print media to update investors and potential investors should be greatly encouraged.

I will not exhaust my thoughts and expectations in this one letter on this matter, but I will close on this note: in light of next month's anticipated launching, maybe it will be a worthy effort for the private sector to assemble a think-tank, (if one exists, it is awfully quiet), comprising innovative businesspersons and professionals, to come up with ideas to promote socioeconomic recovery, with the private sector being the engine to this end. Such a think-tank can be instrumental in the success of the new stock market. Let those with proven leadership skills be placed at the helm, and keep partisan politics out of the business arena.
Emile Mervin