Georgetown, Guyana – (March 4, 2016) President David Granger, this evening, said it is imperative that the Guyana Trade Fair and Exposition (GuyExpo) place more emphasis on the local manufacturing sector to help revitalise the economy, since for too long, Guyana’s economy has depended on the exportation of raw material.
President Granger made these remarks at the launch of GuyExpo 2016 at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, earlier this evening. This year’s event will be held from May 12 to May 15, 2016, under the theme “50 Years: Guyana means Business – Promoting Enterprise, Driving Productivity.”
In his address to the packed audience, which included First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of the private sector, the President noted that GuyExpo must showcase Guyanese businesses and provide the milieu for networking that will lead to expansions and the further investments needed to rev up the economy.
“We have to find out the character of GuyExpo. Is it to develop agro processing and encourage micro businesses or is it to display anything and everything that you can bring into the country? We need to deal with that problem if we are to move GuyExpo forward from year to year and encourage business, encourage production,” he said.
President David Granger gestures as he emphasises a point during his address at the official opening of the Guyana Trade Fair and Exposition (GuyExpo) 2016, which was held at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, earlier this evening.
Minister of Business, Mr Dominic Gaskin delivers his address at the event.
According to the Head of State, for too long Guyana has been dependent on the “six raw sisters” and unless this changes, the economy will not grow or expand.
“[For years we have been depending on] raw sugar, raw rice, raw bauxite, raw gold and diamonds, raw timber and raw fish. We are still a raw economy and we have not really evolved from those six sisters. I do believe that GuyExpo has to play a part in transforming and changing our economy. We have to think seriously about using this exhibition as the forum for value added; for moving [from] raw logs to high quality furniture, for moving [from] bauxite into alumina, for moving [from] gold into jewellery and for moving [from] fish into products that can be taken to the hinterland to feed school children. We need to use GuyExpo as a means of transforming [the economy],” he said.
He noted that the Private Sector, which sees itself as the engine of growth, must be committed to explore other avenues to kick-start the economy. “It must be committed to more than trading, it must be committed to adding value to Guyanese products, to revitalising our Guyanese manufacturing sector,” he said.
For this to happen, he said, Guyanese, especially producers, must come up with innovative ideas to diversify the economy.
“We have to become innovative. Our economy is essentially and fundamentally unchanged and over the last 100 years we have not created a new economy. We have independence and no new economy. Our economy is still based on the exportation of raw materials. We need to be innovative. We need to use our intelligence; we need to use science and technology to produce products, but products of high quality,” he reiterated.
Further, the President noted, adequate infrastructure will have to be put in place to ensure that investors are attracted to the country.
From left: Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin, President David Granger, First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, Chairperson of GuyExpo 2016, Ms. Dawn Holder-Alert, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Mr. Norman McLean and Coordinator, GuyExpo Ms. Tameca Sukhdeo-Singh
Infrastructure and ICT
“…Unless we open up the country with infrastructure, we will not be able to develop, we will not be able to get to the real wealth of this country. We need roads, highways, bridges that will link every region of this country. We need stellings and aerodromes. I hope to see at the next GuyExpo, models of road networks which will open up our hinterland,” the President said.
Information technology and institutional frameworks are also critical to achieving this goal. “Information technology is the driver of innovation, of change. This is what will change our economy,” he said.
The President also spoke of the importance of safety and security for citizens and investors. “We need to assure investors that this country is safe. We need to give them the assurance that their investment will be protected by an efficient magistracy and judiciary. We need to assure them that there is a Police Force, the Defence Force, who will assure that their properties are not burnt, assure them that there is a National Assembly that will pass laws that will be enforced, that when bills are assented to, they are signed,” he said.
Small and micro enterprises
Meanwhile, in his address, Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin said GuyExpo is well aligned with the objectives of the Ministry of Business as well as the economic development objectives of the government. He also revealed that this year, one area of focus will be the development of micro and small enterprises.
“GuyExpo provides opportunities for growth even for small businesses. It gives them the opportunities needed to grow and develop…Efforts will be made to encourage them to bring to GuyExpo high standards of products and services and the Guyana National Bureau of Standards will be playing a critical role in this [regard],” he said.
Minister Gaskin also said that the Ministry is also placing special emphasis on business development and export promotion this year. He noted that an estimated 500 exhibitors are expected to showcase their enterprises at this year’s event and it is anticipated that it will be successful.
In addition, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) Mr. Norman McLean said the group stands ready to work with the Ministry and the Government to ensure that the best possible outcomes are achieved.
President David Granger, Minister of Business, Mr. Dominic Gaskin and PSC Chairman Mr. Norman McLean share a light moment after the opening ceremony.