GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- Representatives of the business community in Guyana and officials of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat met on Thursday to advance discussions on a policy for regional micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
The Guyana leg of the consultations on the policy was held at the CARICOM Secretariat, Georgetown, Guyana, and was the first in a series of engagements with the regional private sector.
Entities that were represented at the half-day meeting included the Guyana Manufacturers’ and Services Association (GMSA), the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Tourism and Hospital Association of Guyana (THAG), Small Business Association (SBA), Institute of Private Enterprise Development (IPED), Guyana Agro-Processors Association and the Pomeroon Women’s Agriculture Association.
The consultations are being conducted to fulfill the urgent need for a legislative and policy framework in which to nurture MSMEs. The MSME sector is considered a critical pillar of economic development of CARICOM as it contributes more than 70 percent of GDP in some member states and often employs more people than large businesses across the region.
Setting the context for the discussions, Leela Ramoutar, deputy programme manager, private sector facilitation and industrial development, said that there was acknowledgement of the need to improve the business environment in the Community.
She pointed to the limited access to financing; high transportation costs; lack of harmonized legislation and regulatory framework; and very weak business organisations as factors that stymied the growth of MSMEs.
A vision, mission and operating environment were the key issues that were discussed under the guidance of Dr Jennifer Edwards, consultant on MSME policy development. Participants identified competitiveness, wealth creation, entrepreneurship, sustainability, an enabling environment and a captive regional market as critical to the nurturing and development of MSMEs.
The consultations continued on Friday with representatives of the business community in Grenada and Suriname via videoconferencing. An additional four meetings will be completed by the end of June. It is anticipated that a draft policy will be completed by September and presented to CARICOM member states for review. A final draft, which will be presented to the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED), is expected to be completed by October month-end.