Not against foreigners owning businesses here, but not to disadvantage Guyanese

Dear Editor,

I have observed that in many communities, small village shops are being forced to close as a result of Chinese Competitors. Persons have complained bitterly and have been asking, why Government is allowing this? How do they expect small shop owners and their families to survive?

Editor, I am not against foreigners owning and operating businesses in Guyana, but not to the disadvantage of Guyanese. I grew up in a small quiet community in Bourda, which was more “residential, with a few small shops and Chinese Restaurants.” The landscape has since changed drastically. We now have hardware, clothing and general stores along with restaurants, all run by Chinese. Familiar stores along Regent Street have also been replaced by businesses run by Chinese. Supermarkets have also sprung up in almost every village along the East Coast of Demerara. South Georgetown is no exception. There are probably three supermarkets operated by Chinese on Durban St. Norton Street, Cemetery Road, Sussex Street and Hunter Street have at least one each. Mandela Avenue, including Go Slow Avenue, has two, while Aubrey Barker Road probably has five.

Editor, I would be grateful if the Mayor and City Council and the Ministry of Housing and Water, particularly, Central Housing and Planning Authority were to inform the public whether feasibility studies were conducted. Did they consider the economic impact, of these additional supermarkets, on existing small businesses run by Guyanese before granting the requisite approvals? Many small shop-owners are now without a source of income. They simply could not access capital to expand their businesses to compete with the Chinese.

Chinese owned companies have also been awarded many huge contracts to build the airport, at least one hotel, roads, and bridges. They are also in forestry and mining in a few regions. Given the huge share the Chinese have in the economy, it would be interesting to know whether they are paying their fair share of taxes.

Editor, the PPP/C Government has lost control of the economy and has no clear strategy for the growth and development of middle- and low-income families. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, despite the billions budgeted for “growth and development.”

I am appealing to the Government, on behalf of the community of small shop owners negatively impacted by this plethora of well-funded Chinese businesses, to implement mechanisms to protect our middle- and low-income families in and out of business.

Yours truly,

Annette Ferguson, MP