Guyana’s latest investment pact with the United Kingdom (UK) has proven, yet again, that its leaders are equipped with the foresight and political will needed to create a highly competitive and diversified economy.
At the Marriott Hotel on Wednesday, an agreement to facilitate key investments and joint-venture partnerships on agriculture, renewable energy, health care, education, technology transfer, and infrastructure, was signed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Hugh Todd; British High Commissioner, Jane Miller OBE and Jonathan Knott, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean.
President, Dr. Irfaan Ali during his remarks at the event that was attended by a top-tier team of UK investors, stressed that now is the time to get on the investment train in Guyana. The Head of State shared that the country is pregnant with numerous opportunities for development outside of oil and gas. To support this, he said his government’s plans to create a competitive and enhanced business environment that drives development into the non-oil sector.
Expounding on this front, Ali said his government is pushing for investments in technology transfers to improve government systems and efficiencies. The President said work is moving forward with the development of a single window application for construction permits. Ali said he will be pushing for more initiatives of this nature.
The President also said his government is keen on fortifying its research and development services, as well as those in the healthcare, education, infrastructure, food security, and tourism industries. He noted, “Those sectors already receive several incentives but will be given further special treatment.” He encouraged the companies to channel their interests in these areas.
As he urged for their interest and support for other industries, Ali cautioned that hesitation in setting up shop could prove costly later on. He said incentives being offered at this time will not be on the table forever. He added that UK businesses must move with haste as the next boom will be unlocked with the gas-to-energy project. That initiative will come on stream by 2025 and will see electricity costs being slashed by 50 percent.
He said, “You don’t want to wait until then to jump on board. You need to understand the geographical significance of Guyana…Guyana is going to become a major industrial, manufacturing and agro-processing hub and we are going to give incentives during this phase of development to investors. That phase won’t last forever. So take advantage of it now.”
During his remarks, Jonathan Knott, His Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean, said the UK shares the Head of State’s vision for Guyana to become a hub for investment.
Knott said, “We are here to deepen the ties with Guyana and guarantee a high quality of support. We are looking at a range of sectors and the delivery of specific programmes.”
He added, “We hope to establish a UK-Guyana joint working group that will define and deliver a time-bound action plan. I emphasize this because we are anxious or rather impatient to make progress.”
Knott assured that UK businesses are not looking to sell quickly and leave; they want to be here for the long haul.