The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has been advocating for years that the steep learning curve Guyana’s businesses have had to adapt to, must be paired with greater access to finance.
Recently, the President of the largest business Chamber in the country, Timothy Tucker, has been calling out local banks publicly, to state the hurdles preventing them from making finance more accessible for Guyanese businesses looking to grow and internationalise themselves.
In his address to the opening of the Business Development Forum (BDF) on Friday, Tucker said that a survey done by the GCCI found that in the next 12 months, 450 companies will need US$122 million to finance their initiatives.
When Tucker led a press conference in October to announce the forum, he said “Access to finance is one of the most critical things right now facing the business community and that conversation has to be held.”
Tucker had said that Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, had committed to tackling the legal and regulatory hurdles to Access to Finance once they are pointed out by financial institutions.
“We are eagerly awaiting them to make that presentation to the President and of course to the private sector and to the country so that those can be addressed,” Tucker had said in October.
On Friday, he added “We are waiting on the banks, and it looks like we might die waiting on the banks… [They] need to get up off their tush…”
Also addressing the opening of the forum, Guyana’s President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali reaffirmed his commitment to addressing the matter in collaboration with the private sector. He has urged local businesses to form consortia as one way to tackle finance deficits for their business ventures.
Making the keynote address on Access to Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh also reaffirmed his commitment that if the legal impediments are identified, the administration will go to Parliament and remove them. However, he said persons should not labour under the illusion that the obstruction of access to finance is only solvable by government intervention.
The Georgetown Chamber made Access to Finance one of the five thematic areas for the forum. In this regard, it has asked financial institutions to participate and help businesses understand what is needed to pursue the various financing options.
BDF will continue into Saturday, November 11.
The thematic areas to be explored, apart from access to finance, are opportunities for businesses, improving standards and quality, doing business in Guyana, and marketing fundamentals. The forum is geared at helping businesses to organise their internal operations to succeed in Guyana’s growing oil-fueled economy.