Apr 10, 2017 News
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, recently revealed that while Government and investors stand to benefit from public-private partnerships, there is no framework in place to ensure value for money and prevent any form of abuse.
He made this observation last week at the Heads of Mission Conference which was held at the Pegasus Hotel.
Gaskin said that many potential investors are looking for what are essentially public-private partnerships. He said this is problematic because, “we don’t have a framework in place for public-private partnerships in Guyana, and a lot of what is coming our way are unsolicited proposals that are only viable with the input of the government, or if government procures a particular service or protects a particular entity from competition.”
In many cases, Gaskin said that what is being proposed would violate the nation’s procurement laws. The Business Minister stressed that it is difficult and unwise to deal with such proposals outside of a framework, or without even some basic guidelines. He said that until public-private partnership guidelines are put in place, the Government should not be encouraging unsolicited proposals.
“It is important that we do this because the Government of Guyana will be looking for Public-Private Partnerships for certain projects. A lot of our infrastructure development over the next decade or more will need to be implemented through public-private partnerships.”
Gaskin also intimated that the country does not have the capacity, the expertise or the finances to accelerate Guyana’s infrastructure development without the resources of private investors. “So we need them to be involved, but we need to control and regulate the process.”
Additionally, the Executive Member of the Alliance For Change (AFC) disclosed that the reality facing the nation is that investors want to hear a “certain language”. He said that they want to hear about the ease of doing business here; they want to hear about public security and the integrity of officials. But most of all, they want to hear about the investment projects that Guyana has to offer.
The Business Minister in this regard, said that unfortunately, Guyana really has none to offer for the time being.
Elaborating more on this matter, Gaskin stated that in terms of investment promotion, GO-Invest is continuously trying to get the message out that Guyana is a good place to invest and that there are numerous investment opportunities in various sectors for which concessions are available.
He noted, however, that GO-Invest faces a similar challenge to what stakeholders in attendance are faced with in the area of investment promotion.
“Investors generally want to know what specific projects we have for them to invest in. And we have none. And therefore we tend to lose the interest of the investor because there are other countries competing for those limited investment funds that have tangible investment projects to offer.
“So the truth is that right now we’re not speaking a language that investors are looking to hear. So what is it that investors want to hear? You may have noticed that for the most part investors are looking for some kind of partnership with the government. That is their preference because it gives them the confidence and security they are looking for. This is especially so for foreign investors, including Diaspora investors.”
The Business Minister added, “Apart from that, investors are interested in political stability economic stability, rule of law, the integrity of Public Officials, physical Security and the ease of doing business. In these areas while we’re not high up in the ranking, we’re not that bad that investors will refuse to do business here. We just have a lot of work to do to improve the business environment so that we can gain an advantage over our competitors. As I said, the main problem is that investors are looking for specific projects to invest in and we have none. At least none that are ready to be presented to them.”
The Executive Member of the AFC articulated that the Government is looking to develop a portfolio of investment projects which Go-Invest can promote to investors. He noted that this is something that his Ministry has started to work on. He said, however, that like the national investment and export strategies, this is not going to be ready anytime soon.
Gaskin revealed that Go-Invest and his Ministry have already discussed the kinds of businesses Guyana is interested in and the sectors that government is seeking to develop.
“Our Ministry is actually going to work with all ten regions in Guyana to identify projects in each region and refine and package them and make them investor ready. We’ve already started meeting with the Regional Chairmen and we’re getting a good response. But like I said that’s not going to be concluded in a hurry. Not until sometime next year,” expressed Minister Gaskin.
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