Jul 11, 2022 News
– President Ali tells Saudi Arabia investors
Kaieteur News – President Irfaan Ali, on Saturday, extended an open invitation to investors of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to ‘invest now’, promising that Guyana is ready to remove bureaucratic hurdles.
“You are really pushing at open doors,” the President told the visiting team of Saudi Arabians while delivering the feature address at the opening of the Saudi Arabia – Guyana Investment Engagement at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal on Saturday.
A 65-member strong Saudi delegation of private and public sector, led by Deputy Minister for Investors Outreach, Mr. Badr Al Badr was in attendance at the event. “We cannot wait to catch up with anyone. If you are ready to be our partner, let us take the conversation forward,” he said. President Ali added, “Let us not go in circular motion, let us establish what we want to partner on, and how we can secure that partnership.” The president said while Guyana is open for investment, partnerships between the two countries must be a ‘win-win’ situation for both states. “We want to partner with you, we want to partner with the world, but you must understand that we also want to move quickly. We have an obligation to the people of this country to deliver to them as fast as we can.”
He also challenged Saudi Arabia to make money available to Guyana, from the Saudi Investment and Development Fund that could be used to invest in any project. “Let us talk about how to establish the Fund here. With that money, we can start the process of pushing projects forward… I can assure you that we can get our technical people in a room with you, and we will not leave until we are finished with the project.”
The president however, made it clear that Guyana is not hooked on any ideological or superior partner, but on those that can give the country the best possible outcomes. “This government that I am a part of is not wedded to any preferential partner, whether they are from east, west, north or south. Our only objective is to get the best possible outcome for the people of this country because they deserve it,” the president said.
Deputy Minister for Investors Outreach, Badr Al Badr assured of Saudi Arabia’s commitment to building stronger investment trade and business links between the middle eastern country and Guyana. He noted that the country is interested in establishing a permanent presence in Guyana. To this end, President Ali noted that systems will be put in place to establish a permanent location in Guyana. This country is also prepared to make lands available for the establishment of an embassy here, and a Saudi desk will be set up at the Ministry of Finance to help facilitate trade. “We are prepared to make the land available for you to establish your embassy in this Region in Guyana, and I expect in the next quarter that we must have positive movement on this…We are ready for you to have your permanent footprint here.” His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Deputy Minister for Investors Outreach, Mr. Badr Al Badr shaking hands following the event
Meanwhile, Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh highlighted areas of infrastructure, healthcare, tourism, agriculture, housing, renewable energy and education as possible avenues for investments.
Minister Singh said since taking office, the PPP/C administration led by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali has sought to advance the relationship between the two countries which began on February 22, 2012. He said engagements like the Investment forum provides important opportunities for Guyana to deepen and strengthen its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
The delegates who are being led by Deputy Minister for Investors Outreach, Badr Al Badr were informed that Guyana is projected to be the fastest growing economy in the world, largely due to its oil and gas sector. Guyana, Minister Singh said produces about 350,000 barrels of oil per day with a reserve that is the third largest in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the 17th largest in the world. Nevertheless, the Finance Minister said that Guyana has a heavy focus on developing a strong diverse economic base by investing in its non-oil sectors.
“Our government, even in our earliest days of oil production, we have placed the highest level of importance on a strong non-oil economy. Our policies are focused on developing the traditional pillars of our economy and catalysing a rapidly growing, and highly competitive non-oil economy. “This is evident with Guyana’s non-oil growth projected at 7.7 per cent this year, building on the 4.6 per cent growth recorded last year, and over the medium-term, non-oil growth is expected to outperform regional and global averages,” the Finance Minister said.
Led by President Ali, Dr. Singh noted that government has laid out a master plan for the development of the country. In the area of energy, the delegates were enlightened about Government’s ambitious plans for an energy mix that will not only reduce the cost of electricity by 50 percent, but also energy emissions as Guyana plays its role in protecting the environment.
Investments in the area of infrastructure include the construction of a high span bridge across the Demerara River, a bridge across the Corentyne River linking Suriname and Guyana, and the commencement of the first phase of the road that links Guyana and Brazil. Opportunities, Dr Singh said, are also available in the housing sector, as government intends to develop Silica City, a smart city, along with delivering 10,000 house lots to Guyanese per year.
There is also tremendous potential in the area of tourism as Guyana has untapped potential with its eco-tourism product. The visiting delegation was given a glimpse of what Guyana has to offer by way of the mighty Kaieteur Falls, and were encouraged to visit and see its potential. Government’s investment in agriculture is unprecedented as the aim is to become the bread basket of the Caribbean. The Minister also said it falls in line with the vision of CARICOM to reduce its food import bill by 25 percent by 2025. He pointed out that while Guyana is ramping up its traditional agricultural sectors, investments are being made in areas such as aquaculture, corn and soya production.
Guyana and Saudi Arabia established formal diplomatic relations on February 22, 2012. Prime Minister, Hon. Brigadier (Ret’d) Mark Phillips, Senior Minister within the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, other Ministers of Government and Chief Executive Officer of GO-Invest Peter Ramsaroop, and other officials were in attendance. (Department of Public Information)
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