– High Commissioner
While local politicians, entrepreneurs and working class citizens alike remain concerned over the dip in Guyana’s economy, United Kingdom (UK) High Commissioner to Guyana, James Gregory Quinn has indicated that UK companies looking to invest in Guyana do not have similar concerns.
He disclosed yesterday, during an exclusive interview with Kaieteur News that at least two UK companies are quite interested in investing in Guyana and will likely come on stream soon.
Quinn declined to name the companies with such interests as he explained that negotiations are still ongoing.
However, the diplomat noted that one is an oil company and that company is well ahead in negotiations which will likely end with it signing an agreement with the Guyana government.
Quinn said that the other is an aviation company which is looking to sell aircraft.
He said that both companies are “looking to push forward with investment and activity as soon as possible.”
The High Commissioner added that the negotiations are so far coming along very well and a definitive “announcement should be made soon” as the deal has a deadline.
Asked to address the fact that these companies are coming to invest in Guyana at a time when the country’s economy is deemed sluggish, Quinn said that he has not one iota of distress in this regard.
The diplomat also indicated that the companies themselves are not concerned either. He told Kaieteur News, “I am not worried; they (the companies) are not worried either.’
He continued, “No company which we have ever been in contact with has ever expressed any concern on that front (slowed economy). And it has not stopped them from coming and wanting to sell or invest.”
There has been growing complaints about the slowdown in the economy, especially from the business community.
The economy is continuing its struggles from a string of poor performances at the sugar estates (with a hint of fortunes reversing), falling gold prices and a rice market that is causing rice farmers major headaches.
President David Granger was grilled, some weeks back, about the economy’s downturn.
He warned that citizens should not expect a sudden shift of fortunes in the near future.
“We depended on the six sisters for the last 100 years…This is going to affect us for a long time until we get off of the six sisters. The fact is that the commodities are now facing low prices on the world market,” said Granger.
The Head of State was of course referring the six main foreign earners – sugar, rice, gold bauxite, diamond and timber.
The President admitted that it is a fact that the manufacturing sector has remained sluggish but insisted that the economy could not have slowed down in the last five months. Rather the decline started way before that.
Granger explained that this shift in economy, more than ever now, will have to demand more downstream or value-added activities with a significant emphasis to be placed on agro-processing.
The underground economy, which had played a crucial role in propping up the economy, had been taking a beating with authorities making several high profile arrests in the drug trafficking arena and even in gold smuggling.
Indeed, from consecutive budget reports, starting back in 2013, the economy had showed signs of a slowdown, recording 5.2 percent that year and dropping to 3.8 percent in 2014.
This year, growth is not likely to surpass 3.4 percent, a cautious government has warned in its mid-year report.
According to the Mid-Year Report on the economy, which was released by the Ministry of Finance, Guyana’s economy has declined some 2.5 percent in the first half of 2015 as compared with the same period in 2014.
The 2015 decline, the report noted, was mainly caused by the delay in the presentation and passage of the National Budget, due to the Parliament being prorogued in November 2014, its dissolution in 2015, and elections being held in May 2015.
“This delay meant that many government agencies were unable to carry out their planned programmes for the year. Many projects were held in abeyance, while only a few projects which were ‘rolled over’ from the previous, year attracted funding. At the same time, the atmosphere of uncertainty and tension surrounding the holding of General Elections, led to investors postponing decision in many cases.”
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