Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, has urged public and private sector entities associated with the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) to invest in Guyana to expand their market opportunities and access scarce resources.
He was at the time delivering an address at the 44th Annual General Meeting of the Islamic Bank Group. The AGM was held from April 1-6 in Marrakesh, Morocco. The main theme of the AGM was ‘Transformation in a changing world: The road to SDGs’.
He told the gathering “Our strategic geo-physical and geo-political location within Latin America and the Caribbean offers a convenient gateway for public and private sector partners to collaborate and invest in Guyana.”
Guyana, he said, has been a member of the IsDB and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) since 2016. Since then, the bank has offered Guyana a US$900M resource envelope of loans and grants to fund various developmental programmes related to the development of the country’s infrastructure and human resource. So far, the website of the Islamic Development Bank shows that Guyana has already benefitted from funding by the bank, under 11 projects.
Jordan congratulated the leadership of the group for a successful year, and thanked the board of directors for its support to Guyana. Since it became a member, Jordan said that the support “Guyana has received from the IsDB has been unique for its approach to programme formulation and project approval.”
In 2018, three operations were approved, enabling Guyana to benefit from a grant for the upgrade and modernization of the Palms geriatric facility; a US$20M installment sale operation to expand and upgrade the electricity transmission and distribution system; and a reverse linkage programme (funded by Malaysia (US$0.3M), the IsDB (US$0.28M) and Guyana (a matching amount), to make the rice industry more resilient.
The country also benefitted from a programming mission to begin preparation for several new projects, which Jordan said are pertinent to Guyana’s current challenges, “rooted in insufficient national resources and a diminishing pool of multilateral and bilateral support to provide the social and economic infrastructure necessary for giving ‘the good life’ to all Guyanese”.
At present, the bank is considering providing funding to Guyana for the following projects: the development and construction of three mini-hydropower systems and road links in hinterland communities, the construction of several potable water and sanitation systems, a reverse linkage programme in halal ecosystems, and a reverse linkage programme in technical and vocational training with emphasis on the emerging oil and gas sector.
Jordan said that there “are opportunities for a WAQF investment programme” – an endowment made by a Muslim to a charitable cause – “to support our elder care initiatives; highway construction to open thousands of hectares of agricultural land while linking communities and markets; and marine port development to improve shipping and competitiveness.”
In this regard, Jordan addressed the audience, saying that, “Guyana will be looking towards its development partners, including the IsDB, to build on our regional comparative advantage in natural resource endowment including pristine forests, abundant fresh water, large arable agricultural lands and a wide variety of flora, fauna and mineral resources.”
Minister Jordan stressed the importance of resisting “chauvinistic” brands of nationalism, which cause fragmentation, instead of unity. He said that more developed global economies have “championed trade without attention to people”, and that the extension of trade arrangements into national borders has caused, among other things, “the appropriation of indigenous knowledge for profit”.
Jordan told the IsDB president, Bandar Al Hajjar, that a business-oriented approach to development is insufficient, and that the Islamic Bank group has done well to also consider “a path that recognizes the importance of the environment”, as well as the importance of building south-south relations and economies that are resilient. To that end, he said that the imperatives should be climate resilient infrastructure, and food and energy security; an empowered and skilled labour force; and a capacity for entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.
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