Jul 06, 2018  Features / ColumnistsFreddie Kissoon

I know of no political theory, and there has never been such a theory that postulates that economic development and financial stability can take place once wealth exists. In other words, if a country has lots of natural resources, those assets will create economic development. Wealth by itself cannot guarantee and will not guarantee a future, if the enabling environments are shoddy or non-existent.
The adjective political theorists are fond of using is, “enabling”. I prefer, “deterministic.” I think that word better describes the value of those supporting environments. These include a competent bureaucracy, a stable, functional education system, the rule of law that is widely respected by major societal actors, civic values; political thinking that is humane and modern, security services that are incorruptible, etc.
These environments are deterministic in every country. Without them, economic take-off will not occur. It is my deeply held opinion that many of these environments are shambolic and they have undermined and continue to undermine economic expansion and financial durability in Guyana. The people who should understand this lesson the most but who understand them the least are our business community.
I am revolted at corrupt police officials; I am livid with insensitive public servants; I am angry at the mediocrity of the country’s bureaucracy and of course, I have no respect for our visionless leaders.
But the area of life that lacerates my psyche is our stupid, ignorant, un-intellectual business community. Their lack of an elementary, intellectual understanding of the modern world disgusts me to the core. They remind me of the saying from Shakespeare in “Measure For Measure.
“But man, proud man,
Dress’d in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d—
His glassy essence—like an angry ape
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As makes the angels weep; who, with our spleens,
Would all themselves laugh mortal.”
Each year, the major business organizations (Private Sector Commission, Guyana Manufacturers’ Association, Chamber of Commerce) have their annual dinner and they lay out their business plan. Last week was one such event, and a huge banner was unfolded entitled a “Guide to Business.”
If we weren’t living in the world most dystopian society named Guyana, I’m sure a protestor would have barged into the dinner and yelled out, “A business guide to what … Stupidity?”
In all the speeches, in all these dinners over the decades with last week being no exception, not one of these business executives points to the idiotic rules and regulations and backward thinking that literally hinders the growth and expansion of the business world in this country. They are so intellectually poor that they cannot acquire the capacity to understand that a country moves forward not because of its inherent wealth only but the deterministic environments that canopy and nurture the function of that wealth.
There is no need to offer any example of these deterministic environments. Comprehending their importance is a commonsensical act. I am not going to invest in a country where my car and my family’s car get into accident all the time because there are no working traffic signals. I am not going to invest in a country where each day I take my eggs from Berbice to markets in Essequibo, parasitic traffic cops are harassing me.
I am not going to invest in a country of less than a million persons where the leased land on which I want to put down a car plant will take five years to process. I am not going to invest in a country that when I arrive, the GRA officials at the airport thinks I am a beggar and treats me humiliatingly.
freddie-kissoon-300x273I am not going to invest in a country that when I arrive with my children, the kids cannot find a place in a public school because it will take a year to issue them with a placement letter.
Not one of these business executives can see the connection between the “envelope insanity” and doing business at the commercial banks and at the post office. A small farmer cannot post his cassava sticks from Georgetown to the interior because he must produce as proof of address, a post office envelope with a stamp date.
Guess what is rejected as proof of address in Guyana – police vehicular fitness certificate. Imagine that is a document issued by the Police Force with your address.
These things are not conducive to the expansion of the business climate but our stupid business people cannot see how terrible those restrictions are and denounce them.
Why do they have these annual dinners? To show off their spouses, fancy SUVs and stuff their stomachs.