President Dr Irfaan Ali has proclaimed that Guyana is set to become the region’s most exciting investment destination, despite the economic problems caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Head of State delivered the keynote address via zoom to the Forecast on Latin America and the Caribbean Conference, hosted by the Association of American Chambers of Commerce and Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) earlier today, regarding the current state of the economy, the impact of the pandemic in Guyana and the outlook of the U.S.-Guyana bilateral economic relationship.
The “Forecast” conference is an outstanding platform from which to advance our shared goals for promoting economic growth, the rule of law, and closer cooperation throughout the hemisphere.
In his address, the Head of State pointed to a plethora of comparative advantages which support Guyana’s economic take-off, including oil production, access to markets and the country’s fiscal investment framework which creates an investment-friendly environment.
“Guyana is about to become the investment colossus of the Caribbean. It will become the region’s most exciting investment destination. Now, therefore, is the right time to be doing business in Guyana. Despite the economic problems caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, our country’s prospects have never been brighter or more promising.”
The President emphasised that despite the growth in the oil sector, the country will not “hitch all of its wagons on oil”, but rather use the resources derived from the sector to revive the traditional economic sectors, thereby ensuring a more diversified and resilient economy.
“Guyana’s impending economic transformation will see a rapid increase in the rate of growth and aggregate national output. It will also set in train the modernisation of the country’s infrastructure and foster increased technological transfers and promote innovation. New poles of economic growth will emerge to balance and diversify the economy, including in manufacturing and services.”
This rapid economic growth is expected to spawn significant investment opportunities in oil and gas, infrastructural development, energy, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, services, information communications technology and tourism.
On this note, the President pointed to the importance of not only public investment but foreign direct investment (FDI) towards driving growth and accelerating Guyana’s transformative agenda.
“We welcome foreign investment. We are eager to do business with the rest of the world, including with the United States. We are enthusiastic about attracting investment, including through public-private partnerships and through the partnerships between foreign and local companies,” President Ali added.
He also points to his government’s efforts in pursuing policies and plans, contained in the recently passed 2020 Budget, which lays the groundwork for enhancing investment promotion.
Several key budget measures include tax concessions on agro-processing, cold storage and packaging; the removal of VAT on exports and allowing exporters, including those in the fishing, rice and timber industries, to reclaim input VAT.
Measures to reduce investment and production costs include the removal of VAT on building and construction materials, electricity and water, the removal of VAT on fertilisers, agro-chemicals, pesticides and key inputs into the poultry sector and the zero-rating of the poultry industry.
“Guyana is on the move. We are accelerating development… My message to you today, therefore, is that Guyana is ready to do business. Guyana will become the investment capital of the region. We assure you that when you come here, you will not want to leave. I invite all of you therefore to explore the business opportunities which abound in Guyana,” the President said.
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It is estimated that over one million Guyanese, when counting their dependents, live outside of Guyana. This exceeds the population of Guyana, which is now about 750,000. Many left early in the 50’s and 60’s while others went with the next wave in the 70’s and 80’s. The latest wave left over the last 20 years. This outflow of Guyanese, therefore, covers some three generations. This outflow still continues today, where over 80 % of U.G. graduates now leave after graduating. We hope this changes, and soon.
Guyanese, like most others, try to keep their culture and pass it on to their children and grandchildren. The problem has been that many Guyanese have not looked back, or if they did it was only fleetingly. This means that the younger generations and those who left at an early age know very little about Guyana since many have not visited the country. Also, if they do get information about Guyana, it is usually negative and thus the cycle of non-interest is cultivated.
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