Smuggling impacting seriously on economy
-businessmen say in survey

Stabroek News
December 11, 2002

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A recent survey has found that businessmen believe that smuggling is having a serious impact on the overall economy, although it does not directly affect a number of sectors.

The latest survey conducted by the Economic Policy Unit of the Private Sector Commission contained several questions dealing with the issue of smuggling, a release from the PSC has said.

“While a number of sectors are not directly affected by the illegal transport of either legitimate or illicit goods, virtually every respondent judged the impact of such activities on the overall economy to be serious,” the survey found.

And when asked to comment on possible remedies to the problem, most respondents called for closer monitoring, more stringent enforcement and tougher penalties.

However, a number of them commented that the high level of commodity taxes were a serious inducement to smuggling, the release stated.

It pointed out also that this latest survey has revealed a diminished degree of pessimism in the business community.

“By a wide margin respondents still concluded that business conditions in Guyana have worsened over the last six months,” the release noted, but “a significant proportion now believe that six months from now conditions will either be no worse, or may possibly improve.”

According to the Unit’s Chief Economist Don McIver such shifts in sentiment are precisely what the survey is intended to reveal. Cautioning against reading too much into a single month’s results, McIver noted that the results do not seem to suggest expectations of improvement, but rather a “sense that conditions have reached a level where it is hard to imagine them getting worse.”

Vice-chair of the PSC Ramesh Dookhoo echoed McIver’s cautious interpretation, observing that senior executives he encounters in his day-to-day business-dealings continue to express grave concerns over the country’s economic health, the release added.

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