West Berbice `Big Lime’ scheduled for later this year
Private sector body to stage event By Clifford Stanley
Guyana Chronicle
January 13, 2002

“The Trade and Tourism Exposition will have a lot of value not only in terms of sales for the day, but advertising value for the companies involved in West Berbice as a whole. This can and will serve as a catalyst for further development of this Region.” - Minister Manzoor Nadir.

THE West Berbice Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WBCIC) will be staging their own Trade and Tourism Exposition, popularly known as ‘Big Lime,’ at a venue in West Berbice before September of this year.

Members of the Chamber agreed to hold a West Berbice Big Lime in response to a challenge by Trade, Industry and Tourism Minister, Mr. Manzoor Nadir with whom they and members of the Association of Regional Chambers of Commerce (ARCC) met on Friday last.

The West Berbice Big Lime will aim at displaying and promoting products and services being offered in West Berbice and so increase awareness of what the area has to offer.

“The Trade and Tourism Exposition will have a lot of value not only in terms of sales for the day, but advertising value for the companies involved in West Berbice as a whole. This can and will serve as a catalyst for further development of this Region,” the Minister said.

The Lime is to be held before September as a build up to GUYEXPO, which will be held during that month.

Minister Nadir added that his Ministry had acquired a great deal of expertise and experience in staging such events and could be counted on for advice and assistance in making the venture a success.

The meeting on Friday was hosted by the WBCIC who were meeting with Minister Nadir as a group for the first time.

Members of the West Berbice Chamber took the Minister on a tour of a number of prominent business places and manufacturing plants owned and operated by their members throughout the area, as well as the Number Two Village, West Coast Berbice beach, which is a potential tourist site.

The formal meeting was chaired by President of the WBCIC, Mr. Muntaz Ali.

It comprised two working sessions, during which members of the WBCIC as well as ARCC - which is the umbrella organisation for existing Regional Chambers of Commerce - raised several issues of concern to members of the private sector whom they represent.

During the meeting, members of the West Berbice Chamber cited unreliability of supplies of water and electricity, the absence of sanitation services, delays in the processing of requests for land for business purposes and the mushrooming of illegal businesses, as some of the major areas of concern.

Minister Nadir and other officials at Ramlochan’s Bakery.

Mr. Harry Ramnarine of the Regional Fishermen’s Co-operative said that many local fishermen had left for Suriname where they were enjoying benefits and concessions which were not available locally.

This had caused business at the Co-op to slump dramatically.

Members who remained needed incentives such as duty free concessions for outboard engines and fuel, as well as easy loans for outboards engines and other equipment in order to maintain the industry’s viability and ensure its growth.

The security concerns of fishermen who are frequently attacked and robbed by pirates while working on the high seas also needed to be urgently addressed, he said.

Mr. Reuben Taylor, Manager of Amazon Caribbean Guyana Limited (AMCAR), which produces the heart of palm at a factory at Rosignol, reported that his operations are being severely disrupted by unreliability of water supplies from GUYWA. GUYWA is completely reliant on the Guyana Power and Light for powering of its pumps.

He recommended that GUYWA should acquire a standby generator for use when the GPL fails to provide electricity.

He also identified the indiscriminate dumping of garbage by owners of snackettes next to the Rosignol Ferry Stelling as another major problem that he and his workers face each day.

Mr. Tom Karran, founder member of the WBCIC, Cattle Farmer, Insanally Habibullah and others spoke about the problems affecting the rice and cattle industry as well as the general lack of employment in West Berbice.

There was a call to by member Krishna Sewlall for persons in newly developed housing schemes to be allowed to open up business places to serve these communities.

Members of ARCC who participated in the meeting comprised representatives from the eight other Regional Chambers, which have been established to date.

The Rupununi, Bartica, Linden, Essequibo, West Demerara, Mahaica, East Berbice, and The Upper Corentyne Chambers were all represented at the West Berbice meeting.

President of the Umbrella organisation, Mr. Ramdial Bhookmohan told Minister Nadir that ARCC was committed to working along with him, his Ministry and with Government on all issues and problems so as to make economic growth a reality in and around Guyana.

He said the ARCC had succeeded in establishing networking among local members to the extent that businesses in any part of Guyana can tie in with ventures in any other parts of Guyana for the supply of goods and products.

This, he said, was a major prerequisite for development.

He disclosed that ARCC’s membership will be increased to 12 with the incorporating of Chambers for the East Coast of Demerara, the Lower Corentyne and the North West District by April, 2002.

Stressing that ARCC was willing to work for the development of tourism, he requested that the Minister consider involving more members of Regional Chambers in the recently established National Special Advisory Committee on Tourism.

Bhookmohan also disclosed details of a trip by a Trade Mission to Brazil comprising members of ARCC, which will take, place later this month.

He stressed that all of ARCC’s initiatives were pro-Government, pro-Guyana and pro-economic development.

Representatives of the Regional Chambers also took the opportunity to raise the concerns of their Chambers with the Minster.

The issues raised were numerous.

At the end, Bhookmohan said he could not help noticing that the existence of ARCC and its participation at the forum had helped to give the Minister a panoramic picture of what was happening all over Guyana without having to travel to the different areas.

The Minister noted that the exchange of ideas and problems from such diverse areas at one forum had made it easier for him to get his job done.

Minister Nadir responded to each of the issues raised with assurances that he would deal directly with those related to his Ministry. He promised to brief his Cabinet colleagues on the other issues.

He said that it was opportune that the meeting was occurring during the shaping of the 2002 Budget since he will ensure that some of the issues and problems raised reach the attention of other colleagues in the Cabinet, particularly the Finance Minister for appropriate action.

He added that one of the problems he was becoming increasingly aware of was that Government had not adequately advertised the fiscal incentives, which were available for entrepreneurs and investors.

He stressed that the incentive regimes available locally are comparable to those in place in many other countries.

These included duty free concessions for equipment and raw materials and also tax holidays, which can help to cushion the effects of heavy borrowing from the banking system.

He lamented the fact that although there had been new players in the Banking system the wide spread between interest being paid on savings and interest being charged for lending still persisted.

He however, explained that the issue of interest rates was a private issue, which was related to the market, and Government could not interfere.

“The market should be allowed to achieve its own equilibrium so that it can allocate scarce resources to those who are willing to pay the most for it. That is the brutality of the market system and we have to abide with it,” he said.

The places he toured included AMCAR, the Rosignol Fishermen Co-op Society, M. Osman and Sons Limited Sawmills, the Rosignol Aerated Soda Factory, Dhannan’s and Daughter GUYOIL Service Station, Ramlochan’s Bakery, Chitranson’s Investments Limited, Walter Phagoo’s General Store and Elvis Auto Service Centre.

The meeting and other elements of the programme for the Minister’s visit lasted for the entire day.

The host, Mr. Muntaz Ali, expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the programme and the high level of responsiveness evinced by Minister Nadir.

Ali said he was convinced that the meeting had set the tone for greater cooperation and understanding between the Government, the Private Sector of West Berbice, and other members of the ARCC.