Parliament of the co-operative Republic of Guyana


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Hits: 3391 | Published Date: 13 Jun, 2012
| Speech delivered at: 21st Sitting- Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Samuel A.A. Hinds, MP

Mr. Hinds: I have had different emotions on this motion brought by the Hon. Member.
In the previous motion, which he withdrew, I think he spoke about it being a piece with the others. To some extent, these motions, coming together, seem, to me, to want to paint a certain picture of this Government. On the other hand, some of his presentations seem to suggest a desire to understand and to learn of things that are happening. My comment immediately to that is that much of what the Hon. Member has been asking for, in this motion in particular, has been presented, for time to time, in this House. I have mixed emotions on the purpose and intent of this motion. I promise you, Mr. Speaker, Hon. Members, that I will take it that this is an earnest motion and this is not a motion, as I said earlier, all aimed at throwing as much mud as could be thrown, hoping that some sort of mud sticks and, maybe, that a number of our citizenry are left confused about what is happening in Guyana and, in particular, what is happening, in this instance, with our national assets.
I think that we need to cast our minds back a bit, again. I know that the Hon. Member did speak about our experiences over the last fifty years not matching our expectations. I say that in this period that we have been in Government…We have to recall that we came into Government following a period when the ideological position of the state owning all enterprises, all economic activities, was prevailing. We saw a change in that ideological position, at least in practise. I do not think it was ever said so in plain words and explicitly, but in practise there was that change after 1987-1989 and we saw the beginnings of privatisation of the many Government-owned enterprises that had been nationalised, starting in the 1970s.
If we talk about things being hidden and opaque, not transparent, we should go back to that period and recall what was happening then. We need to refresh our minds. It is in that circumstance that we came into Government and we immediately promulgated our Privatisation Policy Framework Paper and that has been our guide. As far as humanly possible, we have been adhering to this framework paper for the privatisation of enterprises that were owned by the Government. I think it would be good for us all to review this paper which has been a public document, issued by the Minister of Finance since June, 1993. It has a statement of policy, objectives; the guidelines for privatisation are laid out; the modes of privatisation are laid out. The institutional framework, the regulatory framework, enterprise selection and prioritisation, enterprise eligible for privatisation, timetable for privatisation, rules of competitive bidding, organisational chart of privatisation process, functions of the Privatisation Unit, public corporations divested from 1989 to 1992, corporations with Government participation, are listed in here.
From the very first, we turned the page on the actions of Government in regard of these things which the Hon. Member has placed before us. We introduced a new page in Guyana in these matters with this paper.
Similarly, Sir, we have presented here another document, which has been publicly available since July, 2008, which lists the privatisation programme, from 1993 to 2008. This is a summary of all of the privatisation transactions and actions from 1993 to 2008. I can say, Sir, that there is a follow on being prepared, even at this time. It is in draft form and we hope that before the end of this year it will be available and would be made public. In this document, publicly available since 2008, we have listed and reported on privatisation, since 1993 to 2008.
Listed here are Guyana Timbers Limited and   Guyana Telecommunication Corporation (GTC). These are ones that we came and met. Then there are some that we did - Demerara Distillers Ltd. (DDL), Seals and Packaging Industries Limited (SAPIL), Forte Crest Guyana, Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), Guyana Pharmaceutical Corporation (GPC), Guyana National Engineering Corporation (GNEC), Guyana Stores Ltd. (GSL), Guyana Oil Company (GUYOIL), Guyana Stockfeeds Ltd., (GFSL), National Edible Oil Company Ltd. (NEOCOL), Hope Coconut Estate, Guyana National Printers Ltd., (GNPL), Guyana National Corporative Bank (GNCB) and Guyana Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank (GAIBANK). There is a good summary here.
There has been questioning about fiscal incentives that are provided. This is an area that, admittedly, our people seem to have mixed positions from time to time. But, first of all, let me say that there are two documents here – The Fiscal Incentive Institutional Framework for Investment in Guyana which lays out the fiscal incentives. It states the laws on which these are based.        [Mr. B. Williams: You are saying that, to say what, Prime Minister?]        I am saying it to show that the questions raised by the Hon. Member Mr. Greenidge, in his motion, are adequately answered, presented and available. They are adequately available to persons who want to find out about these things. That is what I am saying.
There is also the Guyana Revenue Authority Investment and Exemption Guide which also speaks to the same sorts of things. An importance difference, there is, from before 1992 to now, is that these are available. They are provided to all persons, local and foreign, who want to pursue investments in Guyana and so they know what to expect. They know what they should get and they know what other people should get. They expect that they would get what is listed in here. We now have an open, transparent system. At least, much more open than before 1992.
There were some questions raised about our natural resources. I happen to have been in that area, particularly bauxite, but associated with other things too, both before I came into this honourable House and since I came into it, and it appears to me that our natural resources are not, as many of our people seem to be thinking, and many people seem to be advocating, golden eggs out there and it is to just put one’s hand out and pick them up. In fact, if anything at all, we should know that we have been badly burnt by many of the enterprises which we nationalised from the 1970s. In fact, in my view, our natural resources, if they were in so much of great bounty, would have been developed rapidly already. The fact is that they give us an opportunity to work and earn an income and it is very challenging and very demanding work, also.
I want to respond, too, to issues that I have experienced. Reference was made to World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and various bodies which came along, and I would say this, in the early days of the 1990s - I am saying this, too, particularly with respect to issues of incentives - many of those institutions, their people, would have come along and they would have said that our country was not getting the rates of investments that it should have been getting. People are not going into mining, forestry and various sectors as rapidly as we think they should. They had suggested that our incentives were not good enough and not attractive enough. It seems logical. If people are not coming to Guyana and they are going elsewhere, our incentives are not logical enough. In fact, there was even a study and when it came out it stated that in the area of gold, in particular, our systems of incentives and total attraction were probably…Only, maybe, the United States of America had a more difficult system than us, particularly in its environmental approvals, and so on. We were more difficult and more demanding, particularly in royalty, than nearly every other country, similarly for petroleum. Do you know what?
In the last year ago or so when there was much more exuberance, I would say, in the search for petroleum off  our coast, many of those same people came around again, another time, and they said  that maybe too much incentives were being given. I guess my face betrayed my thoughts and one person went on to say, “Well, we know you had agreements, and contracts, and those things are sacred, they are not to be touched, but maybe if we re-read them for you, now, we may find that you do not have to give as much as you think you had to give before.” I put this to this honourable House because this is a situation in which we must place much of what the honourable Member had asked about and, maybe, even much of the criticism that comes to us over time. On the one hand, that we are giving away too much incentive and that we are playing favourites, but we could not play favourites when the incentives, which people must expect, are laid out plainly in a number of places. We could not play a favourite in such a situation. 
Our position is that much of what is in this motion of the honourable Member is ill-advised and wrongly pursued. There are much better ways; much of the information is out there, and is available, and more than that there is in place now, a Parliamentary Sectoral Committee which has been dedicated to addressing just these questions. The Committee on Economic Services is designed on purpose, particularly, to answer these questions. Where there is not enough detail available in the public then the Committee on Economic Services is there to address those questions. I had asked, maybe too late, the Parliament Office here to prepare some lists of information that has been available, some of which have been laid in the House and a number of which have been available in the Gazette - no need to lay those in the House. There are some lists here and this is only a partial listing of many of the items that the Hon. Member has called for in his motion.
I do not want to detain this House much longer. I could speak much more on it, but I think that I have spoken to the thrust of this motion. There is adequate reporting; there is an adequate means in the form of the Committee on Economic Services for more information to be had. Generally, though, this is a broad- brush motion. There is, for example, in the “BE IT RESOLVED” clause, part (a), “Provide the National Assembly with a report in keeping with the law…” and this is a very broad statement here. We have worked at it; we have the listing; we have thought about the laws which would apply, and we have a listing for the laws which we think would apply; and we think that we are quite largely in compliance with the various laws that would apply. There is, in one motion here, a requirement for a biannual report and I have noticed that the honourable Member did refer to it, again, in his address. Here we would have some differences. Our studies suggest, to us, that the biannual reporting mechanism is required particularly for financial-type institutions. We do not know immediately which enterprise the Government owns, right now, falls within that law and for which the biannual reporting would be required.
On review, and after my other colleagues would have spoken in much more detail, on a number of areas of this motion, I would like to encourage the Hon. Member to think again and, maybe for second time, withdraw this motion today.
I thank you. [Applause]

Related Member of Parliament

Profession: Chemical Engineer
Date of Birth: 27 Dec,1943
Date Became Parliamentarian: 1992
Speeches delivered:(24) | Motions Laid:(9) | Questions asked:(0)

Related Member of Parliament

Date Became Parliamentarian: 1992
Speeches delivered:(24)
Motions Laid:(9)
Questions asked:(0)

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