GCCI President calls for legislation to protect businesses in digital era

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
GCCI President Kester Hutson

Signalling that Guyanese businesses are ready to tap into the digital and e-commerce landscape, the President of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Kester Hutson, has called for this to be supported by critical legislation.

At the 134th Annual Awards Presentation and Gala Dinner, the GCCI President outlined that the adoption of new technologies works in tandem with the establishment of robust policy frameworks to safeguard cybersecurity and data privacy.

He voiced, “Of course, accelerating our adoption of new technologies must be done hand-in-hand with establishing the policy frameworks to ensure that cybersecurity and data privacy are of paramount importance. I am of the opinion that with much more to be done and should be done, we urge and look forward to seeing our lawmakers working together in order to establish such a policy.”

GCCI’s 134th Annual Awards Presentation and Gala Dinner

Addressing the pressing issues facing Guyana’s economic landscape, Hutson urged lawmakers to collaborate in the creation of legislation that would pave the way for digitisation and unleash the untapped potential of businesses in the nation.

He emphasised that the potential of businesses within the country remains locked in a paper-based environment, which can be revolutionised once there is legal backing to take the digital step.

“Guyana is ready for digitisation legislation. We need to bring out our e-commerce and environment but we cannot get far without necessary legislation to protect the landscape. So much of the economic potential of our micro, small and medium businesses remain locked in an analogue world waiting to unleash with the power of ubiquity of an online presence.”

“We are still a heavy paper-based economy. This is a serious challenge because we’re not working smart but we are working hard…By advancing such legislation, we will play an integral role in propelling the economy of our nation and bring greater prosperity to many of our members,” Hutson underscored.

The Chamber has contributed to the crafting of several frameworks this year. It has also worked with the Local Content Secretariat to advocate in the wake of challenges in local content.

“Working along with the Local Content Secretariat, we continue to advocate for policies and strategies that address challenges facing local content, particularly as it relates to fronting and equity for local businesses to participate fairly in the sector.”

The Government is now working on legislation to partake and secure in the new wave of digitalisation enveloping the world today. It has moved ahead with the introduction of an electronic identification card that will contain biometric data of citizens and aid in enhancing security at a national level.

Meanwhile, the passage of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill this year in the National Assembly now allows for electronic communication to be recognised by law and, acceptable for business and Government transactions.

This means electronic records, communications and signatures are legally effective. It also outlines standards which must be met for legal effectiveness and the role of intermediaries. Such developments will also enhance the efficient delivery of governance by public authorities using reliable electronic records and electronic filing of documents.

A few months ago, the Data Protection (Amendment) Bill 2023 was passed in the National Assembly, which allows for the privacy of persons when their data is being used or handled.Presenting the Bill for its final reading in Parliament was Attorney General Anil Nandlall, who noted that this piece of updated legislation has been long overdue, given the shift to e-governance and digitalisation.

The Data Protection Bill was created to regulate the collection, keeping, processing, use and dissemination of personal data. It sets a statutory framework, moving away from the current construct of the country’s legislation, which does not safeguard rights to data protection.