Speech presented at GuyExpo 2010 by Mr. Ramesh Dookhoo, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission.
Excellency President Jagdeo, Hon. Prime Minister Hinds, Leader of the Opposition, Members of Parliament, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, President of the Chamber of Commerce, the Guyana Manufacturers Association, representatives from other Business Associations, Heads of Companies
It is indeed an honour to be asked to address this gathering on the occasion of the opening of GuyExpo 2010.
GuyExpo has been growing almost exponentially since its inception in 1995. In 2006 there were 160 exhibitors and by 2009 this had grown to over 300. Also, by 2006 there were over 71,000 patrons while for 2009 attendance was up to over 80,000.
This year it is expected that GuyExpo will be bigger than ever and 100,000 patrons are expected to attend. From its inception as a local exhibition GuyExpo has grown to include exhibitors from the Caribbean and this year the Chamber of Commerce hosted a very diverse and large contingent from French Guyana who were en route to the exhibition based on the earlier date. You will also be exposed to SEBRAE from Brazil one of the most dynamic Business Development Organisations in the World.
In 2007 Mr. President you said to us here at this exhibition site that and I quote,
The roots of my economic vision remain as they have always been – a deep commitment to social justice coupled with an unshakeable belief in the power of a vibrant free-market economy to create wealth.
Once more I want to make it clear – there are no contradictions whatsoever in this position. Respect for our fellow citizens, compassion, tolerance and a desire to leave no Guyanese behind as our nation develops – these values are not in competition with support for a dynamic, competitive and assertive private sector that can compete and win in the global market-place. End of quote.
Three years after, Mr. President, the private sector has expanded by taking banking to the people of Guyana building retail outlets that serves the Citizens of rural as well as urban Guyana’ putting ATM Machines in the remotest of places.
Three years after a combination of Government legislation and banking ingenuity has driven home equity to a place where it has not been before creating an everybody -win situation for business and communities.
This together with Government as well as private sector spending has driven the construction Industry to greater heights moving it upwards by 2% in its contribution to GDP.
In order to implement that vision the private sector has challenged itself to collaborate in creating new and innovative solutions for Trade Transactions that are soon to be put on a path of funding and implementation creating new electronic windows to eradicate bottlenecks in Trade Transactions.
The private sector has challenged itself to create codes of conduct for itself which in the first hour of its launch by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce twenty seven companies signed on.
Soon to be adapted is a code on Corporate Governance by the Commission in the next few weeks.
Collaboration between Government, the EU and the Aircraft Owners Association has transformed and modernized the services that Ogle Airport provides.
The private sector has taken on the challenge of eradicating perceived and actual discrimination by its members in vulnerable communities very weary of our role and responsibilities as good Corporate Citizens.
I have no doubt in my mind that Guyana’s economy is on the move and that the private sector-led growth is in sync with that vision exhorted in 2007 by the President.
In 2009, in the face of a global recession in which many countries experienced negative growth, Guyana’s economy grew by 2.3%. All major publicly traded companies have published half yearly accounts that have shown increases in profits and sales.
This was the fourth consecutive year of positive real growth in the economy. Of particular interest has been the growth in yields of rice and gold. The growth in both these areas has continued into 2010 and is this year expected to show real significant gains over 2009 – all being equal.
With an increased focus on generating increased production for export, the economy is showing strong signs of resilience, in our view, in the face of lingering recession across the world.
The theme for this year’s GuyExpo is “Expanding Investment in a Sustainable Environment”.
Guyana has been attracting increasing flows of foreign direct investment, including investment flowing from Guyanese in the Diaspora.
Private sector business proposals and values put before Go-Invest for the last year are as follows.
Agriculture/Agro Processing. $7.6bln. 64 projects.
Tourism. $2.537bln.20 projects.
ICT.1.030bln 10 projects
Wood Products.$2.89bln 35 projects.
Services $1.90bln. 39 projects
Guyana this year has received a service from GT&T that has the potential to revolutionise the entire private sector in the form of creating new services.
This is an economy changing event that should not go unrecognised. When linked to an another such cable from Brazil there will be no limits to ICT-led economic development balanced with social responsibilities of the Government.
Already farmers can check the market price for produce on their phones for produce from Digicel or is it GT&T.
Several manufacturing companies have adapted and were certified in the latest environmental standards and two of the largest publicly traded Companies have invested in environmental and recycling equipment thereby reducing Guyana’s carbon footprint and setting a good example for all to follow. These Companies will speak of these matters in their own time.
There is increasing emphasis being placed on investment in sectors which contribute to Guyana’s new low carbon development trajectory. This new development thrust, embodied in the Low Carbon Development Strategy, is expected to reap significant gains in the medium and long term as the economy adapts to a greener, more sustainable growth path.
Several companies have created joint ventures across the Region and we are viewed as the next investment frontier by many pan-Caribbean companies.
There was in those three years the blossoming of distribution for Guyanese products right across the Region with some manufacturers operating in every Caribbean jurisdiction.
There has been unprecedented private sector investment in the education and medical services sector and the GMSA has made it their duty to resuscitate the Guyana Coalition of Service Providers in collaboration with the University in keeping with EPA preferred conditions for funds flow specific to the service sector in Caribbean jurisdictions.
Opportunities now exist in sectors such as wind and solar power, bio-fuels and sustainable agriculture.
Aquaculture is also a new growth area and the numbers of investors becoming involved is growing steadily. The pioneering efforts of the National Aquaculture Association of Guyana and their sectoral thrust are continuously supported by USAID.
We value and cherish greatly the partnerships created over the last number of years with many regulatory bodies and Government agencies. It is a good feeling when you know that the Government of Guyana is only a phone call away.
We must continue to build bridges with all of the stakeholders in Guyana as bridges can result in the unhindered creation of wealth for all of us in a sustainable way.
Yes Guyana‘s private sector is capable of becoming the economic dynamo we talked about for years ,we can be a nation competing with world class companies in the world as we are already doing and I give you some examples.
Again a Guyanese company won the Anthony Sabga award for entrepreneurship this year. (By the way Trinis We also won the duck curry competition last Sunday.)
And our own Bulkan timber works won the prestigious Pioneers for Prosperity award against a field of 10 Caribbean finalists.
BK international has become the owner of the largest deposit of construction grade stone in the Caribbean.
Banks DIH won several awards competing with Breweries and Bottlers and have signed distribution contracts regionally and extra-regionally and are now exporting to 15 countries.
Several companies are now newly ISO certified including Sterling Products which became this year the 9th Guyanese Company to be certified.
Amazon Caribbean (Guyana) Inc. is now a certified organic producer – an EU certification that guarantees its entry into the EU market.
Several of our private sector companies have introduced import substitution in their operations by working with NARI.
Most of the tourism sector is seeing the larger picture and their association is creating new and innovative relationships with the Tourism Authority and is pushing and selling Guyana to its limits in a collaborative manner.
The Roraima Group has emerged as a very vertically integrated hospitality company and a Guyanese has bought Pegasus.
I can go on and on but my message is that yes we have supported your vision Mr. President as you have supported our individual vision for our companies and sectors, this is an unbeatable formula for economic success in Guyana.
May GuyExpo 2010 be a rewarding experience for all the exhibitors and investors and for the Guyanese people.
I thank you.