May 24, 2015 News
– “Bai Shan Lin did not come through us”- CEO
By Abena Rockcliffe
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Keith Burrowes,
said yesterday that Guyana’s premier investment agency can only account for about 10 percent of the foreign investments made in the country in recent years.
Burrowes made this known as he conducted a telephone interview, during which he found it necessary to note that he has no political allegiance and is fully prepared to work with the new government.
Burrowes referred to a letter he said was published a month ago. In it he stated that he was working with government since the era of Forbes Burnham. “I am not politically aligned; Governments over the years thought that I was competent for the job and I have succeeded always.”
The CEO said that he has already struck a good relationship with senior officials of the new government.
However, when asked about his preparedness to tell the new government how Guyana has been benefitting from the many foreign investments made in the country, Burrowes dropped the bomb that his company can only account for 10 percent of the total investments.
He said that most foreign investments in Guyana’s natural resources whether gold, diamond or timber went through the Ministry of Natural Resources which was headed by Robert Persaud. Companies like “Bai Shan Lin did not come through us.”
The CEO said that he has long been pushing for the establishment of a database to record all investments despite which agency the investors went through.
The idea, he said, was to have all investment related issues anchored in one data base so that at any one time a true reflected of Guyana’s overall investment rating can be had. Burrowes said that the current system allows for many inaccuracies in accountability.
For example, Burrowes said that when the government asks Go-Invest for a figure on the amount of investment in Guyana to put in the budget, that figure is made to represent the total investments when the truth of the matter is that Go-Invest can only account for a limited amount.
He said that GO-Invest cannot speak for the majority of investments in gold. “Ideally at least we should have information on the investment even if it did not go through us…the database would address this problem. It can be placed at Office of the President and all investments information can be sent to that database despite which agency the investor goes through.”
Burrowes said that he is fully prepared to answer to the new administration. He is prepared to say how Guyana has been benefitting from foreign investments, but only those that came through Go-invest.
The CEO said that there are many initiatives that the agency has in store to make Go-Invest more marketable. For example, he said that training has already started to make some staff members bi-lingual with an aim to be able to better reach out to investors. He said that already the sign board outside GO-Invest has four different languages.
Also, Burrowes said that there is a perception in Guyana that GO-Invest deals strictly with foreign investors…”We want Guyanese to know that the agency is not foreign driven and is there to facilitate local investments from investors who are suitably qualified.”
Burrowes boasted that Go-Invest has been operating successfully since he took over.
He also informed that his work towards the completion of a document to guide the company’s proposed restructuring process is at a halt as he awaits the new Government’s vision for the company.
Under the new administration, Burrowes will have to answer to the newly appointed Minister of Investments, Dominic Gaskin.
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