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Saturday, February 10, 2007

National Competitiveness Strategy to reinforce public/private sector partnership
- Minister Prashad tells National Assembly during budget debate

Georgetown, GINA, February 10, 2007

Public/private sector partnership is the key to unlocking Guyana’s potential in terms of building a modern and prosperous country, and the avenue for paving this course is through the implementation of the National Competitiveness Strategy.
          Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Manniram Prashad in his budget debate presentation last evening made this assertion, while explaining that the strategy’s 122 actions and planned activities are being supported by a US$27M private sector development loan by the Inter American Development Bank which was approved  in June last year.
           The National Competitiveness Strategy was launched by President Jagdeo at the Private Sector Development Summit in May last, aimed at giving Guyana the edge on competitiveness in the world economy.
This paper outlines the Administration’s evaluation of progress so far in intensifying national competitiveness and expanding the economy, and it sets out high-level recommendations on the steps that need to be taken to move the country to the next stage of strengthening competitiveness.
           Minister Prashad told the House that the Ministry is in the process of finalizing plans with the Canadian International Development Agency for another $10M toward furthering the private sector development.
          Through this programme, the private sector will be able to tap into international markets and take advantage of increasing capital and technology flows which can lead to more jobs, exports and employment opportunities, he emphasized.
           This interest by the Administration to impel private sector advancement is seen through the many initiatives engendered by Government, Minister Prashad argued.
          Last year, following the Private Sector Development Summit, nine action teams evolved to address major issues as aquaculture, financing, call centres, the five-year tourism plan, Caricom Single Market and Economy and manufacturing.  
          The National Competitiveness Council has also been established and which will be chaired by the President himself. It will have a broad representation of businesses, government agencies, Chambers of Commerce small business associations and trade unions.
          The first meeting of the Council has been held and government would be moving to put in place the Secretariat.  President Jagdeo is optimistic that the council would begin operation shortly.
The Head of State has for several years been speaking of increasing competitiveness. “Let me assure you that the strategic direction of my Government will remain unambiguously pro-business, pro-employment, pro-growth,” he had said in 2005
          Minister Prashad explained that the consumer and fair trading bill was passed in parliament last year, and the commission that will support the operation and regulations of the Act will be established this year.
          Guyana will now have an institution to deal justly with unfair business practices as we strive to achieve a competitive free-market economy,” the Minister said.
            The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce has been mandated to work with the Private Sector and other key stakeholders to create and implement the National Competitiveness Strategy to enhance the country’s competitiveness and support the diversification of economic goods and services.
          Prior to Minister Prashad’s presentation, Khemraj Ramjattan of the Alliance for Change said that local investment climate is not conducive and that investments were not ongoing within Guyana.
          However,    Minister Prashad countered that all across the country investments are taking place, citing the boom in the hotel industry and the many new businesses mushrooming. He referred to the recent $53M investment by the Neal and Massey Group of Companies warehousing facility in Berbice
          The many industrial sites are testimony of the improved investment climate. Government has spent $3B on the industrial estates, he said and these employ about 1631 persons in eight areas. In support of industrial development, he told the National Assembly of the progress on the Belvedere Industrial estate in Region Six which should be ready within two months.
          The Lethem industrial site is also expected   to become operational  during this year.
          To further promote investment in Guyana about 2500 copies of the Ministry’s business directory has been distributed locally and overseas.

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More training for public sector officer

Georgetown, GINA, February 10, 2007

Efforts to enhance the public service will be given impetus this year with more training for the sector’s personnel to improve the management of public investments.
            Government will be spending in excess of $39M to continue training activities, and further action will be taken to improve public management efficiency, transparency and accountability in the Government.
            An additional $270M will be granted for the completion of the Public Management Modernisation Programme (PMMP) framework to revise and reclassify Semi-Autonomous and Statutory Bodies; and improve the capacity of the Public Service Ministry.
            The Public Management Modernisation Programme (PMMP) was launched on December 1, 2005 with the aim of improving public management efficiency, transparency and accountability in the government, including its semi-autonomous agencies.
            The project focuses on improving public management efficiency, the initial step of the government’s long-term reform effort, and is intended to be the first in a series to support this process, adopted after the Public Sector Modernisation Project (PSMP).
            It entails strengthening public service management at a cost of US$1.9M. Agencies and statutory bodies’ accountability and efficiency improvement will utilise US$1.6M, and coordination of the State reform process will take up US$1M. The remaining funds will be used to support the programme.
            The PMMP is slated to produce direct benefits with the growth of efficiency, transparency and accountability in Central Government. Public employment management strengthening will generate savings in administrative costs, with the better use of human resources in all public service institutions.
             The design of an Information Technology (IT) system will also be done this year under the PMMP, while work will continue on the installation of a modern IT system at the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
            The Fiscal and Financial Management Programme will utilise $590M to strengthen public sector financial management in 2007.
             Additionally, Government will continue efforts to strengthen Procurement Administration, Fiduciary Oversight, Social Safety Net Programmes and the capacity of the Bureau of Statistics to provide quality, timely and accurate statistical information.

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Government will work with responsive partners on global warming

Georgetown, GINA, February 10, 2007

Government has pledged to continue working with responsive governments, international institutions and agencies in the spirit of advocacy to bring attention to climate change.
            Head of the Presidential Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary Dr. Roger Luncheon disclosed that the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change report which was released on February 2 emphasised that human activity has been the main contributor to global warming.
            The Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change was established November 1988 by World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the scientific information related to climate change issues, evaluate the environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change, to formulate realistic response strategies for the management of the greenhouse issue.
            Global warming is the build-up of carbon dioxide concentrate in the atmosphere from the use of fossil fuels and land use changes.
            The effects of global warming include rise in sea levels, vanishing Alpine glaciers and severe weather patterns.
            Dr. Luncheon said the report stated that the only possibility is to slow the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. For many economies, it will be the cost in the final analysis of stabilising those factors that promote global warming.
            As a proactive measure, the Government in the past few years has encouraged environmental organisations such as Iwokrama to demonstrate that poverty reduction, maintenance of environmental balance in forest and sustainable economic development are not contradictory but can be reconciled and even made mutually reinforcing.
            This also offers one potential and early solution to mitigating climate change. Iwokrama has a land reserve of approximately one million acres and is located between Regions Eight and Nine.

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