…in BrazilMost Guyanese probably don’t even realise that the giant on our southern border – Brazil – just had a change of government that’s gonna affect us significantly. Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a former army captain who’s the exact opposite of that other army officer who became a South American president. Naah! Not David Granger, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.If Chavez was the fiery socialist who smelt a whiff of “sulphur” – an allusion to the Devil — in the presence of Republican US President George Bush, then he would’ve smelled a volcano of that stuff from hell when Bolsonaro’s around!! The labels “left” and “right” came out of the Cold War between Communist USSR and Capitalist USA, but they now represent constellations of values instead of who runs the economy.They now signal a person’s stand on a host of social issues. Bolsonaro, for instance, abhors gays, coloureds/blacks and environmentalism. He would “privatise” the Amazon forest and open it up for business. To heck with the “peanuts” his country gets for maintaining trees as “carbon sinks” to allow the developed nations to keep on polluting.But his rise from obscurity is — as is also the case in Venezuela — due as much to the missteps of the leftists who governed Brazil, starting with the charismatic Lula in 2002. With a tremendous amount of popular goodwill behind him, Lula started out like a house on fire. Brazil surpassed Britain as the 5th largest economy in the world, and was looked at to provide a possible new fulcrum of power in the western hemisphere against the US. But the rot of corruption set in, inevitably slowing down the economy and dashing the inflated hopes of Brazilians.Enter Bolsonaro. Just as Trump did up north, he vented the anger of Brazilians who consider themselves the backbone of the country, and were not enthused about the “liberal” values that had become dominant. Nostalgia for the “good old days” of the military dictatorship of the sixties, when there was “order” and “stability,” gripped the old oligarchy and the upper strata. Bolsonaro publicly approved of the torture used in those days to keep dissidents like Rousseff in line.But how will all of this affect us? For one, Brazil will now take a hard line against Venezuela — which has always been an irritant to Brazil — for their pretentions as the pre-eminent Latin American power. This should bolster our stand on our border rights with Venezuela. Bolsonaro will definitely dam the river of Venezuelans pouring into Brazil…and for sure we may see some more of them coming here.As we advised before, our military-origin President should move the GDF to our western borders pronto! …the scriptThe AFC are in panic mode now that it’s clear they’re being dumped into the dustbin of history. Addressing the PNC party faithful in the Stabroek Market Square, new party Chairman Volda Lawrence tore into them even more viciously than to their supposed arch foe the PPP. This should remind party leaders like Ramjattan and Nagamootoo that betrayers are held in contempt, especially by the folks to whom they sold their souls. And betrayers will never be trusted!!Since your Eyewitness only reads the Chronic on line, he missed Nagamootoo’s column, since it wasn’t highlighted in the list of “featured” columns. He’s now read a report on it in the Chronic (slow news day?), in which Nagamootoo complains about the PPP holding a meeting nearby to his in Whim…and leaving his to speak to a few stragglers.But he told a lie that must be corrected: that he was fired as PPP Local Government Minister when Cheddi was out. Not so. Only the President can fire a Minister!…the messengerThe Chinese business community was lectured on Guyana’s labour laws by the Junior Minister responsible for the Department of Labour in the Ministry of Social Protection. Implying they didn’t understand English, he stressed the need to have the laws interpreted for them.Has he had them interpreted for himself?
Speaking at the Ministry’s CEO Breakfast Forum held at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, in New Kingston on May 2, Mr. Shaw said since he was appointed the new Minister in March, he has identified that one of the restrictions to farmers and other MSMEs getting access to loans, involves them not having records and business plans in documented formats. Story Highlights Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, is encouraging micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) owners, especially farmers, to keep records of their business activities, so they can have better access to loans and other capital they need for growth. “The small and medium enterprises must recognise that they too have a duty and a responsibility to become formal, and the policies that the Government is driving, and will be driving, is that ‘get formal, get transparent, write a business plan, do the things required of a formal business’, and you will be in a position to access money at much more competitive interest rates, including single-digit interest rates,” Mr. Shaw said. Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Audley Shaw, is encouraging micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) owners, especially farmers, to keep records of their business activities, so they can have better access to loans and other capital they need for growth.Speaking at the Ministry’s CEO Breakfast Forum held at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, in New Kingston on May 2, Mr. Shaw said since he was appointed the new Minister in March, he has identified that one of the restrictions to farmers and other MSMEs getting access to loans, involves them not having records and business plans in documented formats.“The small and medium enterprises must recognise that they too have a duty and a responsibility to become formal, and the policies that the Government is driving, and will be driving, is that ‘get formal, get transparent, write a business plan, do the things required of a formal business’, and you will be in a position to access money at much more competitive interest rates, including single-digit interest rates,” Mr. Shaw said.He pointed out that some financial organisations at the Forum are willing to assist needy MSMEs and farmers; however, potential borrowers are often sidelined because they do not have proper documentation to prove that they can repay and are qualified.“The context is that despite the MSME sector being by far the largest number of businesses in the country, we’re only able to attract about 18 per cent of the formal credit,” he said.Mr. Shaw said that with more microenterprise operators having access to loans, this would result in a reduction in the interest rates on loans that are currently being offered in the market, based on economies of scale.“The sector has been accessing money on terms and conditions that militate against competitiveness, productivity [and] the ability to penetrate export markets on a real viable basis,” the Minister said.Mr. Shaw reiterated that the Government’s primary role is to create an enabling environment that facilitates private-sector investment and production.Meanwhile, Managing Director, Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Milverton Reynolds, agreed with Mr. Shaw, and emphasised that his organisation is willing to lend money to members of the MSMEs.“It’s not just the entire private sector that requires this focus (of having proper documentation), but, specifically, the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, and so with that recognition, we at the DBJ over the last several years, have modified our approach and we have had to reorganise the way we do things to focus more on the MSME sector,” Mr. Reynolds said. in his address.He added that the DBJ wants to leave no sector or social group out of its policies and programmes, so not only is the bank focusing on MSMEs but it is also providing products for businesses at every stage of the business life cycle, specifically capital programmes.“No matter the size and level of the business, the DBJ can assist. From our low-interest loans to our collateral support programme, to capacity development support, right through to supply chains, we have a product or service for your company,” he said.For her part, CEO of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Valerie Veira, said her organisation is willing to guide persons from the MSMEs on how to plan properly and complete the required documentation, as this “sector is the backbone of every country’s economic development”.The Forum was held in partnership with the OAS and the JBDC.