Wednesday, 19 June 2013
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|Private sector assured of government’s partnership in economic drive|
|Thursday, 28 June 2012 22:38|
President Donald Ramotar has assured the private sector that his government will be a reliable partner in the drive towards economic activities
“In responding to the need to drive economic activities, the private sector will find a reliable partner in this government.
We are committed to ensuring and enabling an encouraging business climate. We are also committed to fiscal and monetary policies that promote and catalyse local and foreign investment, including actions aimed at removing encumbrances to economic liberalisation.”
Those were the affirmative words coming Donald Ramotar during his address at the 20th Annual general Meeting (AGM) of the Private Sector Commission (PSC of Guyana held in the Savannah Suite at Pegasus Hotel. The last time President Ramotar addressed the PSC was during his election campaign last year.
This time around, he reiterated his government’s commitment to an open economy, one that is forward looking, balanced and globally competitive and said he expected the full support of the private sector as opportunities for investment and businesses are expanded as Guyana embraces regional and hemispheric cooperation in this growing economy of ours.
He revisited the state of affairs when his party took office in 1992; they had inherited not just an economy with grave deficiencies but also a public service wanting in proper and adequate systems of accountability. These defects affected the capacity of the Office of the Auditor General to efficiently fulfill its function of producing timely reports on the state of the country’s public accounts as the Public accounting systems were archaic, defective and in a state of decay.
In light of these glaring in efficiencies, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic ( PPP/C) government of 1992 committed immediately to the institutional strengthening of government accounting and the boosting the capacity of the Auditor General’s Office. The Integrated Financial Management System (IFMAS) was developed and this led to improved public accounting. Revolutionary changes in the process of fiduciary oversight ensured that government spending was subject to the scrutiny of Parliament through the Public Accounts Committee. These measures have aided improved financial governance and policy- making evident by the compendious documents produced each year detailing and explaining public expenditures and revenue collections. The financial system of today is far superior to that of the past.
The President noted that privatisation of state assets was by invitation which saw investors make a proposal for the takeover of a government enterprise. The enterprise would eventually be divested without resort to any competitive process.
Mr. Ramotar recalled that the Central Tender Board was revamped and legislation was passed that established the ground rules for public procurement. As a result new institutional structures were created. Where competitive bidding was absent, this was reintroduced. Every week tenders are opened in a process that is open to the public. The bids are then sent for evaluation. Numerous contracts are awarded each month. For the overwhelming majority of these contracts - over ninety nine per cent- no fuss is made about the awards. But for a select few there have been criticisms and innuendoes emanating from sections of the media.
The President said that these criticisms and insinuations are being sensationalized and generalized to unjustifiably paint the government as being corrupt.
But he was adamant about the transparency of his government and stated clearly that he is not into concealing the business of government.
He explained however, that the there are ethical considerations which no government which procures goods and services from the private sector can ignore. He cannot, for example, make public certain details concerning commercial transactions.
“I cannot, without authorisation, reveal publicly the individual prices for supplies sold to the government. To do so without the consent of the bidder would be unethical and in breach of the standards of confidentiality which governments are obligated to observe. The same applies to infrastructural contracts and to ongoing negotiations. However, insofar as information can be made public without breaching commercial and trade secrets or violating ethical principles concerning the confidentiality of agreements, I am prepared to do so. In fact, I have already done so. Following unremitting and sensationalist reporting in sections of the media, much of which were purely speculative and uniformed, I made public all the major contracts which were signed by the previous government and which were at the center of media-generated controversies. The opposition parties were also given copies. I have indicated to the opposition that we are prepared to answer their questions and assuage all their concerns. I stand by my word. Despite these steps; the media campaign has not relented. I have no problem with the media scrutinising the work of government. In fact, I believe that this is one of the important functions of a free and independent media. I encourage such oversight. I am not thin- skinned. I have been around politics for too long to be ruffled by criticisms within the media. What I have grave difficulty with however, is when speculation is presented as fact. If the media does not have information, they should ask for it. Where the information can be provided it will be provided,” the President declared
He added: “I have nothing to hide. The Party of which I am the General Secretary, the PPP, does not benefit from any ill gotten gains.
The media also does not have to fear pressure from the government. I respect the independence of the media. This is what I fought for throughout my political life and this is what I will uphold,” the President asserted
While my government is not out to encroach on the independence of the media, I am disturbed when instead of seeking out the facts, sections of the media resort to conjecture, some of which I find extraordinarily imaginative. For example, I have seen sections of the media create imaginary scenarios about the hotel that we are building. They have even gone as far as suggesting that this project is a “Ponzi” scheme.
The President added: “I know where some of the criticisms are coming from. I understand the interests that are involved and the fears that the investment is generating. This is unjustifiable. I want to assure all of you that the Marriot Hotel project is not going to put anyone out of business. This government is not into the business of pressuring any company into liquidation. And I want to assure those that feel threatened by our plans to build this hotel that their fears are misplaced. “
“We are looking towards the future. I can assure you that we are working to increase the momentum of our economy. I envisage that we will be able to move so fast as to fill all hotels with people seeking to do business or leisure. Hotels are not constructed overnight. They are the products of forward planning. We have to prepare for a future in which guests will demand five- star services. Instead of creaking local hotels owners should be upgrading, one Marriot will not be enough.”
“I am pleased that the private sector is supportive of this project and I hope that they can speak out more on its benefits. I believe that local investors should be encouraged to invest in such initiatives as this.”
In relation to the project to extend the runway and construct a new terminal building at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri which are sorely needed for faster growth are reviewing the situation based on the information in the public. I want to assure you all that we will safeguard the national interest that is the most important thing for us.”
|Last Updated on Thursday, 28 June 2012 22:44|
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