Essequibo Chamber urges gov't to bring crime under control
January 29, 2003
Recently re-elected President of the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Samuel Arjoon, is calling on government to bring crime under control in order to regain the confidence of investors.
In his inauguration speech at the Chamber's 2nd Annual Dinner at the Lake Mainstay Resort on January 18, Arjoon asserted that a strong and competent government is required to garner both local and foreign investments.
He pointed out also that both the government and opposition parties have a role to play in bringing the constant threat of political, social and industrial unrest to a stop once and for all, according to a release from the ECCI.
"Guyana desperately needs a new era of political stability, a society free from crime and where the rule of law prevails," Arjoon stated.
Among invitees at the dinner, the release said, were Regional Vice-Chairman Vishnu Samaroo, Police Commander 'G' Division, Mr. Brummel, Mayor of Anna Regina, Sammy Rampersaud, and Deputy British High Commissioner, Steve Crossman, who was the guest speaker.
Reviewing accomplishments of the Chamber over the past year, Arjoon disclosed that the ECCI has started consultations with a Canadian business group regarding possible investment in Essequibo for organic farming, logging, agro-processing and the supply of solar and wind energy.
He referred also to a meeting of the Chamber with President Bharrat Jagdeo which Arjoon noted has brought about the dredging of sand banks on the Essequibo River and the presence of the Guyana Defence Force on the Essequibo Coast. In addition, the Chamber has been given positions on five Regional Democratic Council boards, as well as a presence on government advisory boards, while two ECCI members have been given land to develop a juice factory and a multi-purpose business centre, the release informed.
Moreover, Arjoon noted, the Town Council has given the ECCI a piece of land at Anna Regina to develop a mini-park, and as a top priority the Chamber is working on a solution to the garbage disposal problem. "Garbage disposal is becoming a threat to our community and it is imperative that we urgently sit down with the RDC, Town Council and other stakeholders in identifying a dump site in the short term and work out a programme in the long term for a proper garbage disposal system", he said.
And looking at what he called "major advocacy issues for this year", Arjoon stated that government must continue to improve the necessary infrastructure, remove tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade, provide access to low-cost capital, and reduce government regulation and bureaucracy at the micro level. He said too that it was important for government to reduce tax rates (corporation tax) and broaden the country's tax base, noting that Guyana needs a better fiscal incentive system.
The ECCI president, the release stated, also urged that government should increase the level of education and skills of workers while influencing macroeconomic stability, and reducing corruption.
Arjoon also posited that Guyana needs to make a deliberate effort to move away from preferential trading in order to compete in the global economy.
He observed that while the world needs more free trade, it should benefit both rich and poor countries. "So whilst we attempt to remove barriers to free trade," Arjoon declared, "ECCI would be advocating that rich countries like the United States and Europe remove barriers to food imports since this is a detriment to the development of poor countries like Guyana."
He also contended that it is time to break the monopoly of the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company Ltd and the Guyana Power and Light Inc., and for the country to explore alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro, the release said. The ECCI, he said, is disappointed at the rate of expansion of electricity and telephone service since the privatisation of the two bodies.
De-silting of the Pomeroon River is also on the chamber's agenda. Arjoon noted that this was critical to the export capacity of the area.
The release also quoted Arjoon as stating that being a member of a Chamber should be mandatory. "We would like to see the necessary legislation passed recognising (the) Chamber of Commerce as a body that all businesses should be a part of by law."