GCCI Code of Conduct

Speech for the Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Mr. Ramesh Dookhoo, presented at the launch of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Code of Conduct, September 28, 2010

It is indeed a pleasure to be asked to address this gathering today at this auspicious occasion of the launching of the GCCI’s Code of Conduct.  The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the oldest private sector association in Guyana and has a venerable history.  It is therefore fitting that they would take the lead with this initiative in an area that is direly needed by the Guyana business community which is going through changes to make it transparently competitive.  

In an environment where businessmen and women are sometimes tempted to flirt with ethics and standards in an attempt to navigate the various blockades of bureaucracy and to maximize their profits, it is heartening that these same persons would voluntarily submit themselves to a Code of Conduct that promotes ethical business practices.

In recent years there has been much discussion of the concept of corporate social responsibility and the need for businesses to exist in harmony with all stakeholders and with the community and environment at heart.  Corporate social responsibility, often referred to as corporate citizenship is a means of integrating various norms and ethical practices into a business model, much as the Chamber is doing with its Code of Conduct here today.  It is important that businesses abide by the legal framework and follow guided principles of ethics and professionlism.

This Code of Conduct prescribes guidelines to define the role of business when interfacing with laws and bylaws, policies and procedures governing the business community of  Guyana and how they should conduct themselves when interfacing with the government agencies; employees; customers; suppliers; owners and investors; communities, etc.  It also prescribes the principles of fair competition, something that is emerging in Guyana which is important to protect our business in the context of international trade.  

In each of these areas business enterprises have pledged their willingness to embrace the Codes, thereby upholding a standard that can transform the business environment in Guyana.

It is particularly of interest to me that you have set out standards for free and fair competition.  Your Code says that “free and fair competition is critical for a well functioning open market economy and contributes to increasing the wealth of the country and its citizenry.”  This has been recognized in the passing of the Competition and Fair Trading Act and the ongoing setting up of a Competition and Consumer Protection Commission of which I happen to be the Chairman.  The Commission seeks to promote and ensure fair competition among business entities in Guyana and I would venture to say that the members of the Chamber, in adhering to the new Code of Conduct, are ahead of the game.

Of note-worthy importance, is the emphasis on the environment that is being placed in the Code.  Guyana’s new Low Carbon Development Strategy seeks to place the country on a low carbon growth trajectory and all citizens, whether corporate or else, must be encouraged to pursue and adapt green practices and technologies into their business operations.  

This awareness of our responsibilities towards the environment must be inculcated into each business model and into the thinking of the new generation of business leaders.  The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in recognizing this, is pursuing a leadership role which must be emulated by all other private sector entities.

In closing I would like to say that the Chamber and its members who have formulated this Code of Conduct must be congratulated for the leadership role which you have assumed.  All of Guyana will benefit tremendously from adherence to the principles of corporate social responsibility which are embedded in this Code.  I salute you guys.

Thank you.

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