The Guyana Government has issued a pellucid message to residents of the United States, “This English-speaking South American nation, ideally located and suited to investors, is open for business!”
Worldfolio: World News, a globally renowned content provider, recently published an interview titled ‘Fresh approach to Governance, Resource-rich Guyana ushers in new investment incentive push’, with Guyana’s Finance Minister, Winston Jordan. In that interview, his message was unequivocal.
Worldfolio said, “Guyana is facing a historical year and its people have elected a new government after a 23-year grip on power by the PPP.”
It said the Government is moving away from traditional industries and is initiating a programme of diversification and value-added.
Minister Jordan, asked how he would like Americans to perceive Guyana, responded, “What I want Americans to know is that Guyana is open for business.”
The Minister said that he wants Americans to get the impression that the new APNU-AFC Government is a friendlier one that is a friend of the United States and all peace-loving people of the world.
“I would like to encourage all American investors, non-investors, whether they are coming for tourism and so on to come see what they have been missing,” he urged. The interview with Jordan also appeared in US Today.
The Finance Minister was asked to highlight some of the opportunities for Americans in the country. Dubbing Guyana a ‘mini United States’, he explained that this nation has almost every resource that one can think about, “Be it oil, bauxite, manganese, rare earth metals, gold, diamond, extensive forest, rich agricultural land, or warm people who speak English as their first language.”
Apart from Guyana being bestowed with numerous natural resources, another factor in its favour is that it is critically linked to other countries. “… We might be small relative to most of the other countries in South America, but we are an important bridge between the Caribbean and South America.
“Add to that our historical links to North America, and we have a country that is ideally situated and suited for investors,” the Minister said.
He said, “We welcome investment of all kinds to help us develop these resources, and ultimately, our country.”
He identified sectors such as Information Communication Technology (ICT) eco-tourism, minerals, alternative energy and agriculture as some of the areas that investors can tap into.
There is a wealth of land for agricultural purposes, and on which any type of exotic crop can be grown. Plantation agriculture could be done utilising crops such as oranges, corn, and soya bean, he explained.
The mineral sector, Jordan said, holds an ‘abundance’ of opportunities, and while there is heightened interest in gold, diamonds and bauxite, other minerals could be exploited including manganese and rare earth metals.
Speaking about the country’s fiscal incentive regime, Jordan told the Worldfolio that it is highly competitive and attractive.
Jordan admitted that the country’s infrastructure still needs to be upgraded and transformed, but this does not take away from what the country has to offer. In fact, he noted the country offers as compensation friendly people, non-hostile climate, and easy accessibility.
Ease of doing business
The Worldfolio interviewer asked Minister Jordan about how Guyana can improve with regards ease of doing business, and in so doing raise the bar on international investors’ confidence. He acknowledged that the state of the country’s infrastructure, the level of bureaucracy and corruption and governance issues have affected the country’s image.
He said that what is required is “another generation of reforms to modernise the financial sector, improve our laws relating to, for example, acquiring and transferring land investment promotion, thus trying to give the investors the confidence ….based purely on a transparent incentive investment legislative regime.
“These are some of the activities we will be pursuing to improve the ranking.”
Guyana is one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America and the Caribbean with an annual growth rate of over four percent in the last eight years.
Jordan cited tumbling oil prices, political uncertainty brought on as a result of the closure of Guyana’s Parliament, falling remittances and Guyana’s dependence on primary products with little value-added among the factors that affected the 2015 growth. He added that around elections, investors tend to withhold investment decisions.
Economic diversification is the government’s vision and to achieve that goal, he said, over the next few years the government will focus on diversification to lessen its vulnerability to external shocks.
“There are existential challenges, including the poor state of the infrastructure and the high cost of fossil fuels that we use to generate electricity.”
He explained that Guyana will begin exploitation of oil in another few years. This will significantly boost the country’s economy, and aid the diversification process.
Some of the oil proceeds, he said, will be used to modernise the country’s infrastructure- roads, transportation system and building of a deep water harbour.
Water resources will be used to develop small to medium hydro-power facilities, solar farms and other forms of clean energy that include wind and bagasse.
“For too long we have depended on the primary sector. We need to get rid of some of the impediments to investment and growth in the economy,” he acknowledged.
Minister Jordan expressed that Guyana still remains “an undiscovered gem, a paradise in the making.”
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