Leadership is more than making statements

first_imgDear Editor,In regard to an article in the independent media captioned “Guyanese need to practice more ‘conscious’ consumption – Business Minister”, I must say leadership is much more than making statements.Leadership is about coping with change and after almost two years in the driver seat at the Business Ministry, one would expect Minister Gaskin at this point in time, not only talking about the consumption patterns in Guyana but would have been rolling out some concrete plans to level the trade field for the local Private Sector. But clearly, his team at the Business Ministry has not effectively unpacked the issue and is clueless on the critical changes needed to deliver on his wish for more conscious consumption in Guyana.There is nothing proud about a tin of pigeon peas imported from Trinidad, on the shelves of the Guyanese supermarket at a cheaper price that the real, fresh Guyanese stuff on the Boards Mall. This is one of the many national shames that will continue to destroy the state of the economy. But my gravest disappointment remains; the Ministers in the Granger Government, save and except for a few like Raphael Trotman, continue to hold themselves distant from the responsibility for charting the course to influence the change needed to advance Guyana’s development. If you listen to Minister Gaskin’s speech, you would believe that he is working for a lobbyist who is trying to influence his Government to make changes. But the sad truth he is the policymaker and it is his job to make the changes but if he is unclear as to his role, then “HOUSTON, we got a problem”.If one read his statements on this issue, he said “the business community has to become more productive and that productivity has to be supported by citizens’ habits of consumption” But what has he as the Minister of Business done to date to have personally influenced the changes needed? BINGO – Very little!This is like a parent telling the children that sweets are bad for their health but continue to buy sweets every week. Minister Gaskin sits in a position of power to charter a course on what we import and at what price. He has an armoury of tools to do the job such as import regulation, trade tariffs, licencing regulations, health and safety standards, domestic subsidies and so on. All of these can be used in different doses to alter the terms of trade with the world. But instead, he is still stuck on lecturing the business sector and the Guyanese nation rather than getting the job done.Mind you, I think Dominic is an honest straight up bloke and I wish him well, but the situation demands more than another speech; it demands timely decisions to remedy this trade imbalance that the Granger Government fosters and its predecessors in the Ramotar Government fostered. Free trade has never helped small and weak economies like Guyana and continues to be a major deterrent to the local Private Sector being incentivised to expand production and enhance productivity. With free trade, the local Private Sector is already at a disadvantage to countries like Trinidad that already had a 20 years head start on the journey to greater production and productivity.It is time Minister Gaskin IMPLEMENT (not talk) some concrete actions to make FREE TRADE into FAIR TRADE when it comes to the Guyanese business community and the population in general. When will he announce plans for a packaging plant that will be canning all of the fresh foods that are so easily grown in Guyana? When will I see on the supermarket shelves of Guyana a tin of pigeon peas, MADE in Guyana?Regards,Sase Singhlast_img

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