Dear Editor,This has relevance to the visit to Guyana by the US Congressional delegation (headed by Chairman Bob Goodlatte) and the large military security team. The visit is intended to strengthen relations (in economic, political, and security spheres, and in the general cooperation on all other matters) between our two nations.Guyanese-Americans thank the delegation for undertaking the trip, strongly support the visit, and encourage closer relations between the two countries. Guyanese-Americans would also like to see more visits by officials of the US Government.In a recent study I undertook, Guyanese in Guyana and people of Guyanese descent in America say they have a very positive view of the relations between the two countries, and would like to see improved relations in light of several challenges facing their mother country, especially on matters pertaining to security, democracy, drug trafficking, and human rights.Guyanese say there are cultural, economic (trade, business, investment), military (security), family, migration, political and educational reasons, among others, for Guyana to have closer relations with America. More Guyanese (and people of Guyanese descent) live in the US than in Guyana, and thousands of Guyanese people study in US colleges and universities. In addition, Guyanese- Americans have been sending some US$250 million annually to Guyana over the last several decades.Some 100,000 Guyanese-Americans visit their former homeland every year, spending hundreds of millions of US dollars. Guyanese-Americans and other American businesses invest in Guyana, and many lobby for greater financial assistance to Guyana from Washington. So there are justifiable reasons to have closer relations with the US, with a lot of benefits accruing to Guyana.In the past, relations were defined and influenced by the Cold War and geo-strategic interests. The Cold War ended in 1990, but now there is a new kind of realpolitik in America’s international relations as it relates to Guyana and the greater Caribbean/Latin American region – one defined by economic (energy) interests, especially now that oil has been found off the coast of Guyana, and by the war on terror (especially since wanted terrorists were recently linked to Guyana).American interest is now largely defined and influenced by the war on terror, oil interests, and by business competitors from former socialist nations (like China and Russia). The US is also concerned by increased drug trafficking and migration from Guyana to America – not excluding nationals from other nations (economic refugees) using Guyana as a transit point to migrate to America.The US needs Guyana’s cooperation in all of these areas, and Guyana stands to benefit enormously from such cooperation. In addition, cooperation with America is vital for Guyana’s national security interests.Political and economic interest groups and political parties should encourage more visits of the kind as the one headed by Congressional Chairman Bob Goodlatte to Guyana this week, so as to discuss matters affecting our nation – such as migration to America, economy (oil), security (threat from American competitors), trade, business, investments, war on terror, and neighbouring Venezuela.Yours faithfully,Vishnu Bisram
– for telling Private Sector to stay out of politicsBusiness Minister Dominic Gaskin’s advice that the Private Sector should stay out of politics until elections time has been rebuffed, with a former Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) President reminding him that politics is very much the Private Sector’s business.Addressing the second day of the Business Development Forum, former GCCI President Vishnu Doerga pointed out that the business community is, by virtue of paying its taxes, already involved in politics. At the same time, he noted the importance of the Private Sector ensuring it is in compliance with the laws.“We (the business community) understand that we’re all in politics,” he related. “Who funds all of this? It’s your taxpayers’ money that funds all of this, so that actually means that we’re all involved in politics…,” he contended.“Make sure that you comply; pay everything that you need to pay, so that you can actually open your mouth. If you don’t, that’s why the Minister said to stay quiet. Because if you’re not paying the levels, you shouldn’t be talking. But if you are, and you meet all your obligations, it is your responsibility to (have a) say,” Doerga charged.Business Minister Dominic GaskinHe cited an example wherein businesses would have to interact with regulatory agencies such as the Government Analyst Food and Drug Department (GA-FDD) due to the importance of ensuring they are selling and consuming products safely.“And is that politics? If it is where the money is coming from, and how we’re being taxed, and how it’s being used, then I’ll say yes, do get involved!” Doerga related.Stay outAt the opening of the forum on Friday, Business Minister Dominic Gaskin had advised the Private Sector to stay clear of politics until the time comes to fund the elections, and to place their focus on business.He was addressing the inaugural Business Development Forum hosted by the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) at the Pegasus Hotel.The Minister managed to raise eyebrows at the launching with his pronouncement that he believes the business sector ought to stay out of politics until the election period, and should rather concentrate on what it does best.“I believe that the Private Sector should concentrate on business, and stay out of politics, at least until the election season comes around, when you can decide which parties you want to support or which candidates you want to fund, because funding is of course a very key component of the election campaigning process. But certainly, in the off season, you need to concentrate on business, and Government is supportive of that… let the Private Sector do what it does best: compete, comply and get compensated,” he said.He went on to say that, for far too long, Guyanese have been blaming bad politics in Guyana for bad business practices, as he compared Guyana to other countries.