Our leaders are running on the spot shouting from the top of their voices about REDD and low carbon initiatives wasting good money again; yet the one project that can make a difference in the lives of the Guyanese people in this area is silently being positioned for parking with the lame excuse that the global economic crisis is having an adverse impact on the “construction momentum”. What utter rubbish!
The Marriot Hotel failed because we engaged a kangaroo investor. Fullstop! Even up to today, new hotels are being built all over the world, but Banks are focused on reputation more than returns at this point in time. It all comes down to the investor’s management team, their track record of real investments in the past in similar sectors and who knows who. The reality is that very few people with real money know Guyana. When an investor spend his money on a project in a third world country he want to go there and play golf or fish or do some cross country safari, and at the same time have a look at his investments. The best publicity Guyana has secured to date is Jim Jones. Who want to play golf in Jim Jones’ country? The only way to let people know Guyana is not a Jim Jones kind of country, but one ripe with potential to be unleashed; is to invite them.
The best investment Guyana can make at this point in time is to invite the top five CEOs of the top five investment banks to see Guyana and understand Guyana (not in a boardroom) but in a scenic atmosphere conducive to building relationships. In the real world business is about relationships, trust, deliverables, pioneering ideas.
A fishing expedition at the back of the Abary to do some real sports and at the same time talk business with people of the like of the Beharrys, Gafoors, the Brian Tiwaris, the Courtney Benns, the Yesu Persauds, the Clifford Reis, the Kissoons, along with key Government technicians like Winston Brassington, and Robert Persaud would be a idea worth its weight in gold. There are two very good ranches there (the Kissoon ranch and the Ramphal’s ranch) that are conducive to a relaxed environment to build some real relationships with some well connected people. You do not build a relationship with a business leader at a Conference since they have their defence brain switched on; you really build a business relationship in creative activity like golf, fishing etc.
There is no better person that Sir Shridat Ramphal to take charge of this initiative. Only then can we have some hope for a Hydropower Project, a Linden to Lethem Road, a Deep Water Harbour, the completion of the MMA, and the conclusion of the Ethanol plant and Distillery in Berbice. I am not only advocating commercial debt, but with the richest Banks on your side, all the doors to the Governments in India, China, Brazil, Russia, Japan and Germany, USA, Canada, UK will be opened.
These private Bankers have the keys to these doors. The top five global investment Banks are – JP Morgan (USA), Deutsche Bank (German), Barclays (UK), Merril Lynch (USA) and Nomura (Japan) so I trust Sir Shridat will be put on that plane for this all important mission.
Uganda, the land of Idi Amin (that former repulsive dictator) has been able to rebuild its reputation and position its image globally. This has allowed them to
secure the financial backing of Absa Capital along with its global affiliate Barclays Capital to arrange the commercial debt facility for a US$867 million hydropower project in that country. Uganda knew a South African called Anand Naidoo, Uganda knew, Sithe Global, which is majority owned by the New-York based Blackstone group, (the same company Flip Motilall knows) and yet they have done a deal and we have not. It is our image; it is our reputation, chaps. Our hydro-project did not fail for want of efforts (I was advised that Flip Motilall rapped at every door he knew, but too few people knew Guyana and thus was not willing to back us financially). Simple!
Not solving our social cohesion issues is also not helping either. Read the latest international press coverage on Guyana gave the impression that all is not well:
AP quoted in the Taiwanese Press “…. The Government of Guyana offered a US$125,000 reward for information that leads to the arrests of those who set fire to the wooden building that house the Ministry of Health….”
What made Uganda better than us? Nothing! They had to wash away the Idi Amin reputation and only then could they have sealed the financing for the Hydro Project, so why can’t we? What did they do that we are failing to do?
The Ugandan Government made getting the hydro-project their No.1 priority. The assembled their best team ever; drawing on well known global names, who knew Uganda to help. Revolutionary ideas require revolutionary leadership and revolutionary decisions. We must stop operating like boy scouts when it come to the nations future. We must stop being distracted with our personal aggrandizements and focus on the big ticket needs of Guyana. Regardless of what the IMF says, the development interest of our people is paramount and the Government of Guyana must get up and get out there and talk to the Naidoos of the world and make this deal happen.
Flip Motilal is not a Government and thus even with his sterling efforts; he will not command the audience that a top notch Government delegation will. It is most disgusting to continually read in the newspaper the same old story over and over, 10 years after we have committed firmly to a hydro-electricity project:
“GPL break down in Berbice, GPL having generation shortfall, GPL has announce load shedding”.
I do not understand why more people in Guyana are not stark raving mad at the decision makers for this mediocrity and have not brought the required pressure to bear so that real change in attitudes can be achieved at the highest level. It irks me when I am reading that come 2010, Uganda will have a 250 MW hydro power station up and running and they thought about this project after Guyana. Where there is a will, there is a way! Common people “free yourself from mental slavery” (Brother Bob). Think big!
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