On Monday, May 2nd 2016, Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, met with a number of shop owners in Rosignol, West Bank Berbice. The meeting was in response to the alleged shutting down of unlicensed businesses in the stelling area by representatives of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).
At the meeting, which was attended by some twenty shop owners as well as representatives of the West Berbice Chamber of Commerce, a number of issues were raised by the business owners, including:
· Shops operating on State lands unable to meet GRA licensing requirements
· Seizure of alcoholic beverages by GRA representatives under the Customs Act
· Shop license requirements for new tenants in mini-mall
In his response the Minister emphasized the importance of having all businesses operating within the laws of Guyana so as to minimize any harmful impacts they may have on communities, consumers and the rest of the economy.
The Minister explained that the significant amount of business carried on outside of the existing legal and regulatory safeguards has created a free-for all in which no successful economy can ever develop.
He pointed out that when it comes to the sale of food and alcohol the regulations are very strict and this is so in most countries. He noted that it appeared as if the goods seized by GRA Officials were mostly alcoholic beverages and urged the shop owners to ensure that if they wished to sell alcohol they should ensure that they were properly licensed.
The shop owners have formed themselves into an association and are planning a collective approach to having their occupancy of the roadside area regularized so that they can be licensed to carry on business. Most agreed that it was better if all businesses paid their fair share of taxes and operated within the laws of Guyana.