Stabroek Wharf rehabilitationWith the recent collapse of a section of the Stabroek Wharf which resulted in the relocation of vendors, Town Clerk Royston King told media operatives that he was awaiting a response from Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson on the way forward.On Thursday, King indicated that the vendors were operating at the Wharf even though it was unsafe. However, they are pushing to have the works commence as soon as possible, since another section of the deplorable Wharf collapsed last week.“This is the second time we have had such an incident this year. At the moment, the physical condition of that facility appears to be very unstable. It presents a clear and present danger to those who occupy as well as those who visit to purchase from the stallholders,” he said.“I’ve written to the Minister and we hope to get a reply before the next statutoryA section of the Wharf to be rehabilitatedmeeting, which is on Monday next. In any case, the persons who will be relocated to that section of the city will have to remain there on a temporary basis,” he added.Meanwhile, it was related that the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) had made the decision to relocate the vendors to an area that is situated on the western side of Parliament Building.“I have taken action to relocate those stallholders who are operating at that facility. Last Friday, we met with them and explained that situation and our intention to relocate them. They agreed…however, we are in the process of preparing the area and hope to be able to have the stallholders there in another three weeks,” King said.For the relocation, King explained that the Ramp Road hire-car drivers were also engaged by Mayor Patricia Chase Green and the issues affecting them were also rectified. This comes in light of the fact that many of the operators had raised concerns about the relocation, since the Council had closed their parking area to facilitate the vendors. The livelihoods of the drivers were severely affected as a result.“Also, Her Worship met with taxi drivers who operate from that area and shared with [them] the necessity of our action to rearrange and reorganise that space to accommodate our legal tenants who are operating at the Wharf. They have agreed to work with a reduced space, to be registered with the Council and pay a fee to the City Treasurer. That fee would be used to sanitise the area and to keep it clean,” the Town Clerk stated.“The 42 bus park is usually operating in that particular area and that really is within the portfolio of the Council and what we’re trying to do is to use our own resources or own reserves to allow our legal tenants to do their business,” he added.As of now, a comprehensive analysis is being conducted on the condition of the Wharf by the City Engineer, and will include practical and workable recommendations.
As the year 2018 commences, former Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chairman Ramesh Dookhoo is optimistic that Government will further reduce some of the tax measures implemented on key sectors during 2017.In a recent interview with Guyana Times, he noted that investments have slowed owing to a lack of confidence in the economy.Private Sector stakeholder Ramesh DookhooGovernment has, over the last two years, sought to broaden the tax base to capture wider sections of society, especially those in the manufacturing sector. However, industry members continue to decry challenges from high manufacturing costs and reduced earnings as a result of the hike in taxes. Dookhoo, a prominent stakeholder in the Private Sector, expressed that these measures were especially hurting the forestry, mining and even the retail sector.He told this publication that with the many engagements that Finance Minister Winston Jordan has had with Private Sector operatives, including the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA), he remains hopeful that the tax measures will be reversed.“I’m optimistic because the Minister has reversed a number of things from before, having recognised the serious impact that [the taxation] had on businesses,” Dookhoo pointed out.This newspaper understands that forestry experts have a delegation that has been engaging the Finance Ministry’s technical team in attempting to alter several of these measures. In fact, when the 2018 Budget was presented to the National Assembly in early December, it included the exemption of Value Added Tax (VAT) on logs and rough lumber which was a reversal of one of several measures implemented in 2017.Dookhoo is of the view that it is only a matter of time before VAT is removed on other measures, having observed the noted uncertainties that exist in the local economy.“You saw a cry from the gold miners regarding the levels of productivity in their business – that was also addressed by Minister Jordan, [but] there’s a lot of uncertainty in the economy. I heard the head of the banker’s association say recently that $30 billion of loans have been approved to do projects, but the borrowers are not drawing down the money because of apprehension [towards] the economy,” he asserted.He further noted that it was this apprehension which was contributing to reduced investments.Meanwhile, GMSA President Shyam Nokta recently highlighted that the 2017 Budget adversely impacted on the country’s manufacturing sector, saying that it caused a reduction in cash flow for businesses. He further indicated that measures such as the recategorising of zero & standard rated items and the inclusion of VAT on forestry products and electricity have affected the growth of the sector.