Over the past few weeks there has been growing tensions between the government and the business community caused mainly by what the private sector sees as anti-business policies being implemented by the APNU/AFC Coalition.
The Private Sector Commission’s view that the country’s economy is being mis-managed saw the government labeling the body as being a political tool of the opposition.
The government’s reaction to sustained criticisms from the business community is indeed sad. The government would have only itself to blame should the images of the past when the private sector was miniaturized keep cropping up.
This government does not take the private sector seriously. It does not see the private sector as the engine of growth. By its actions the government seems to be applying economic thinking of the old days when the PNC, under the doctrine of “Paramountcy of the Party”, controlled more than 80 percent of the economy. Needless to say, the country went bankrupt.
The recent threat of the Georgetown Mayor to implement out-dated opening and closing hours for businesses in the main shopping areas in the centre of the city is a reminder of the mind-set that prevailed under past PNC regimes.
The PPP had changed those old laws and introduced more befitting best practices so as to encourage business and maker consumers more comfortable. That was good for the economy.
Since taking office, the government has taking similar out-dated practices, such as removing concessions to local and foreign investments.
It has stated that rice is none of government’s business and has left the industry to struggle for survival. It is now in a mad rush to do away with the sugar industry.
In the last year the private sector has suffered more tax burdens than the last two decades and the taxes on consumers through VAT has been suffocating to businesses all over the country.
This government has done everything to stifle the growth of the private sector. It has blamed the private sector for the shortage of foreign exchange rather than looking at its own anti-business policies.
The Private Sector Commission has stated quite clearly that it has no confidence in the government running the economy in such a way as to create wealth. As far the business sector is concerned the government intends to depend on taxes to run an ever expanding government apparatus. That is where jobs would be created.
There are no plans to attract investment to create jobs in the ten regions in Guyana as was the case under the PPP. Investment opportunities were growing at a rapid pace under the PPP.
A good example of what the PPP did was to have a vision to house Guyanese. Out of that notion, a very robust housing drive was undertaken that saw billions of investment made by locals. It was a comprehensive plan that saw benefits to thousands of Guyanese.
Today, the housing drive has come to an almost screeching halt with little or no investment in the sector.
The lack of economic activities is having its negative effects throughout Guyana. The slide is sure to continue as the government is not prepared to listen to sound advice and is not prepared to have discussions with the people who can invest in the country. In fact, some feel that the government is deliberately driving away investors and killing business.
No wonder they have not been able to deal with the serious economic and other issues raised by the business community, and has shown no inclination to have any form of engagement to reverse the economic decline.