GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, April 11, 2017
A two-day awareness session aimed at equipping small businesses /contractors to better bid for government contracts started today at the Critchlow Labour College.
The Small Business Bureau (SBB) which falls under the purview of the Ministry of Business is facilitating the awareness sessions.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan, had announced in the 2017 budget that 20 percent of government contracts would be awarded to small businesses or small contractors. This seminar will serve to strengthen the procurement system by making small contractors more responsive, and to have more of them onboard.
Additionally the seminar’s stakeholders will draft a mechanism so that the SBB can report to the Ministry of Business with respect to value, numbers and how they can tap into the procurement system.
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin said the government is the biggest spender in the country and it is important that the money is spent in a way that provides the maximum economic impact and fair opportunity for all types of businesses. He highlighted that the process is not as easy one noting that, “it is a very complicated because taxpayers still need to get value for their dollars.” Minister Gaskin said that products and services need to be competitively priced, of high quality and delivered in a timely manner.
The Business Minister said that he is aware that it is difficult for small businesses to be competitive with the big companies which are experienced in the procurement process and enjoying the economies of scale that allow them to offer a better price than the small businesses.
Minister Gaskin told the participants that the law states that 20 percent of government procurement contracts need to go to small businesses, and the government must now “gear out how to give effect to that law.”
“It is not an easy task, and it will take a government that is fully committed to the well-being of our small businesses to make that happen. It
has never happened before, but we are going to make it happen; it requires patience, it requires cooperation and it requires a lot of preparation,” Minister Gaskin said.
The Business Minister said currently there is no system that measures how much of government procurement goes to small businesses. There also needs to be a system that will compensate for the disadvantages of small businesses when they are competing with big companies, which the Minister noted is currently being worked on. Small and medium businesses form an important part in the country’s private sector and do contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to economic growth, Minister Gaskins said.
“This is not a sector in the economy that we can ignore or abandon,” Minister Gaskin highlighted.
The Business Minister said that small businesses need an enabling business environment in which to develop. He highlighted that they need financing, and training, opportunities, as well as incentives.
Financing- Minister Gaskin said the SBB currently provides financing for small business under the Micro and Small Enterprise Development Project. Government will supplement this project to make it easier for small businesses to get loans. Minister Gaskin however, explained that small businesses need to understand that small loans “still have to be paid back.”
Training-the SBB also provides training on how to operate a business, as well as technical training. Minister Gaskin said that once the resources are available and the demand is there, the training aspect can be expanded. “The training has to go hand in hand with financing so that the programmes are more effective and your businesses have a better chance of success,” Minister Gaskin said.
Incentives-The Business Minister said that there needs to be an incentive programme that is tailored specifically to small businesses, and it is another area that is currently being given consideration. The Minister said the Ministry anticipates that they will be able to give an incentive scheme for small businesses in the near future. This however will have to tie in with compliance and to the priority sectors that the government is seeking to promote.
Opportunities – Minister Gaskin said that there are tremendous opportunities for small businesses in the area of public procurement, and government will ensure that these businesses are prepared. Minister Gaskin said that persons should ensure that they are registered legally to access to public procurement.
Officer in Charge of the SBB, Gillian Edwards expressed happiness that such awareness activities are taking place. She noted that the SBB will continue to work with all stakeholders to ensure that small businesses benefit significantly.
The Ministry of Business and other stakeholders, with support from the regional administrations, will conduct similar workshops in the other regions.
The Ministry in collaboration with the Commercial Registry, the Guyana Revenue Authority, the National Insurance Scheme, the Guyana National Bureau of Standards, and the Guyana Office for Investment among other agencies will be facilitating the awareness sessions.
By: Gabreila Patram
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