Redesign of Lethem Industrial Site underway – Ministerial task force tells Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Region Nine’s business prospects will receive a boost with the completion of the Industrial Site in Lethem. The site, according to Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin is being redesigned by SRKN Engineering Company.

This was budgeted for in the 2016 National Budget and once completed, the Minister said, the construction of the site will begin after a transparent tendering process.  He described the original plan as a very basic one, hence the need for its revision.

This disclosure was made during a Ministerial meeting with the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on May 6, at the Lethem Amerindian Hostel. It came in response to calls from RCCI representatives for Government to do more to boost the region’s business sector. The enquiry about the Industrial Site, was made by the RCCI members who said it was needed to help attract businesses and boost employment.

Minister Gaskin reminded the business operators that many of the challenges they faced will be addressed through the designation of Lethem, as a town.  Some of these challenges include the need for critical government services, more focus on agriculture, trade with Brazil, and more social services.

Business owners pressed their case for the decentralisation of the business registration process. This process has long been an issue of contention, with residents having to travel to Suddie, Essequibo to complete it. In response, the Ministers acknowledged the need for change and explained that Government is actively taking steps to decentralise the process.

Minister Gaskin added that the legal process will be dealt with by Legal Affairs Minister Basil Williams. A suggestion that the process by fast tracked and based at the Lethem Magistrate Court, will be considered,  Minister Gaskin added.

The issue of commercial zoning was also put forward by the RCCI members. It was revealed that some persons had opened businesses without official approval. This, the RCCI members said, left several legitimate entrepreneurs at a disadvantage.  In response, Minister Gaskin said that some of these actions, such as zoning, needed to be addressed by the Municipality. He added however, that leases issued for prime lands will be revoked if lessees are not utilising them.

The challenges faced by law enforcement ranks, such as a lack of vehicles and manpower were also raised by the RCCI members. These concerns will be put to Minister of Public Security, the Minister assured.

It was explained by Minister Gaskin that, “Government will not cut corners to fix challenges” and while decisions will be fast tracked as far as possible, “any actions must and will be transparent.”

The Minister led a delegation which included Minister within the Finance Ministry, Jaipaul Sharma, Fourth Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock,Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe; Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes; Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings; and Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson. Technical staffers and representatives from sub-agencies also accompanied the delegation.

The outreach was a follow-up to President David Granger’s visit to the region in March during which the President met with the RCCI.