– single mother struggling to send children to schoolBy Indrawattie NatramIn continuing the service work of giving and helping others as a non-profit organization, the Cove and JohnThe mother of five with her childrenAshram located on the East Coast of Demerara in collaboration with the Food for the Poor Inc recently reached out to another struggling single mother of five from Bushlot on the West Coast of Berbice.The mother’s plight was seen through an article that was written and published in a recent edition of the Guyana Times. Immediately after reading the article members of the ashram ventured to the mother’s home at Wire Dam Bush Lot and assisted her.Saraswatie Sampooran, a mother of five received a complete bed set (bed, pillow, mattresses, sheets), food hampers and clothing compliments of the Ashram in partnership with Food For the Poor Inc. Sampooran also known as Rita who is currently struggling to send her four children to school believes that an education is important and as such the determined mother makes “pointer brooms” and plant flowers as a means of sustaining her livelihood and providing for her children. Although her earnings are meager she manages to provide for her family.Out of her five children one is attending Secondary School. The mother who currently resides in a shack surrounded by sheets of zinc said that in the nights she often sleeps in fear. Many times she was attacked by persons who took advantage of her situation she said.The mother of five is currently living on a piece of Government reserve at Wire Dam where she constructed a shack she called her home.She said that she had applied for a house lot in the past but due to lack of finances she could not obtain same from the Government. Her desire is to live in a more comfortable and safe environment where she could provide more for her children.During the visit, Administrator of the ashram and spiritual leader, Swami Shivashankaranandaji encouraged the mother to continue having faith and give assurances that the ashram will continue to help her. He advised the single mother to live for her children and assured her that help will come her way.The mother expressed gratitude towards the ashram and Food for the Poor Inc. She thanked them for assisting her.
2017 Mid-year Report…urges review of taxes, incentives for renewable energy initiativesBy Jarryl BryanThe Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA) is warning the Government to make addressing current pressing issues a priority to prevent the economy from faltering and not to be sidetracked by preparations for the coming oil and gas sector.Those warnings came from GMSA President Shyam Nokta, who was addressingGMSA President Shyam Noktabusiness leaders and tax officials at the Association’s business luncheon on Thursday. While oil is a lucrative natural resource, he noted, more attention and effective policies are needed in Guyana’s more traditional sectors.According to Nokta, a four to five per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate is possible with the right administrative policies and corporate decisions from the Private Sector. He noted that this would help with job creation and putting Guyana on a strong economic footing, something the 2017 half-year report showed was wanting.“At the GMSA mid-year dinner, I spoke about our excitement about the potential for oil and gas, but also our concerns with an economy that is slowing and the urgent need to grasp their potential. We need to seek practical measures, so that the economic sectors, including manufacturing and services can help drive a return to strong GDP growth.”Nokta also referred to the resource curse dubbed the “Dutch disease” in his presentation to attendees. The “Dutch disease” can cause a reduction in the value of other exported commodities and is often blamed on the sudden development of one sector at the expense of others.“There is much talk about how the imminent oil and gas sector will change everything in our country. That is true and that is precisely why we need to ensure we build all the institutional defences to defend against the well-known economicThe forestry sector contracted by 18.2 per cent, according to the 2017 half-year reportgovernance risk that oil and gas could bring.”“But on the other hand, our economy could falter if we do not remain focused on the broader imperatives of supporting investments and job creation across all our economic sectors. We need to prepare for oil and gas, but we also need to stay the course to ensure other sectors continue to grow.”Nokta listed some of the issues affecting manufacturers, including unstable electrical supply, access to financing on reasonable terms, high freight costs, and market access. He also called for specific interventions, including incentives and a review of taxes on industries such as forestry, for the 2018 Budget.Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) Commissioner General Godfrey Statia was among those present, and Nokta took the opportunity to refer directly to some of the tax measures also affecting growth and frustrating the business community.“Measures such as the recategorising of zero and standard rated items to exempt VAT on electricity and forest products, among others, have impacted the competitiveness of our members and, therefore, the economy.“We raised these issues with Minister (of Finance, Winston) Jordan and proposed some measures. When Budget 2018 is announced, we hope to see progress on priorities such as the removal of VAT on electricity, water, education; targeted assistance for struggling sectors such as forestry through the removal of VAT on forest products.”He also called for consolidated facilities for wood and agro products, in line with the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, and investments into renewable energy to be incentivised.According to Nokta, manufactured products should also be given a larger share in public tenders and there should be stricter adherence to laws which ensure small businesses get at least 20 per cent of public spending when their products and supplies are procured.Half-year reportThe Finance Ministry’s half-year report was released in July of this year. It showed contractions in certain sectors when compared to the corresponding period in 2016. The declining sectors included sugar, livestock, forestry, mining and quarrying, and even bauxite.It showed that sugar production was recorded at 49,606 tonnes at the half year and when compared to the 56,645 tonnes produced during the first half of 2016, represented a decline of 12.4 per cent. The livestock industry also contracted by 10.9 per cent in the first half of 2017, due to heavy rainfall severely affecting production, especially in the second quarter.The forestry industry also showed an 18.2 per cent contraction in the first six months of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. Declining production within the forestry industry was a result of structural changes in the industry.The mining and quarrying sector contracted by 4.0 per cent, during the first half of 2017. Gold production fell by 1.7 per cent to 317,096 ounces, in the first half of 2017, compared to the same period in 2016. Also, the report showed the bauxite industry declined by 11.5 per cent, as a result of reduced production of higher valued grades.This was a consequence of poor weather combined with mechanical issues at one of the mines. However, production of metal grade bauxite (MAZ) increased by 97,016 tonnes or 21.3 per cent, the report had stated.