Senior Minister with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh on Saturday evening highlighted the bountiful opportunities that are available for Guyanese and Canadian companies to tap into so as to deepen trade and investment relations between the two countries.
He made this remark at the Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce’s (CGCC) inaugural Gala and Fundraiser in Toronto, Canada.
Dr Singh was the featured speaker at the event, where he received a message from Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, on the occasion of the Chamber of Commerce’s gala. The written message was handed over by the Member of Parliament for the Markham-Unionville district in Ontario, Paul Chiang.
In the message, PM Trudeau welcomed everyone to the CGCC’s inaugural Gala and Fundraiser.
He noted that since its launch in 2020, the Chamber of Commerce has been working to strengthen the relationship between Canada and Guyana, through trade and investment.
This relationship, according to the Prime Minister, is built on more than five decades of close people-to-people ties – with over 85,000 Canadian-Guyanese citizens calling Canada home – strong trade, a longstanding development programme, and a robust security partnership.
“With such a strong history and such a solid foundation, the possibilities for the future are endless. I am looking forward to supporting the Chamber of Commerce as they explore these opportunities. I would also like to thank everyone in attendance for your support of this work,” the Canadian Head of State added.
Meanwhile, during his keynote address, Minister Singh also commended the CGCC on all of its achievements since its establishment. He lauded the fledgeling Chamber of Commerce for hosting the gala, which he pointed out presents an excellent opportunity for both Guyanese and Canadian companies to forge ties and accelerate the deepening of investment and trade relations between the two countries.
Additionally, the senior Government official also made note of the special relationship that exists between Guyana and Canada – grounded in shared values including commitment to democratic governance – and highlighted Canada’s role in the protection of Guyana’s democratic credentials during the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
Dr Singh along with Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest), Dr Peter Ramsaroop, attended the event on Saturday evening.
Prior to the CGCC’s Gala and Fundraiser, the two Guyanese officials earlier on Saturday met with the Guyanese diaspora at the Consulate General of Guyana in Toronto.
On behalf of the President Irfaan Ali-led Government, Dr Singh reiterated the appreciation for the unwavering stance that the Guyanese diaspora in Canada took in defence of Guyana’s democracy during the March 2020 General and Regional Elections.
Dr Singh highlighted that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is committed to leveraging the skills and investment potential of the Guyanese diaspora in Canada, as the Government continues to implement its aggressive development agenda.
With Guyana now being the fastest growing economy in the world and a premier destination for investment in the oil and gas sector, infrastructure, and the requisite support services, Minister Singh signalled the reassurance that Government will ensure an enabling environment for economic prosperity and encouraged the Guyanese diaspora to return home and seize the investment opportunities.
“There is no better time to be Guyanese than today… There are a lot of incredibly exciting possibilities. We put in place a Local Content law that carves out 40 areas where the oil and gas companies have an obligation to procure a [maximum] percentage of their inputs under those 40 areas from Guyanese companies and Guyanese nationals…”
“You’ll be amazed and shocked at the value attached to being Guyanese today,” Dr Singh asserted.
According to Singh, the PPP/C Government is committed to ensuring Guyana has a strong non-oil economy and is making the necessary investments in this regard.
“We intend to ensure that we use this period of oil production to invest in the things that are necessary to ensure long-term growth and wellbeing for all of the people of Guyana, long beyond the oil era… We’re are looking far down the road and contemplating what are the things we need to do now to transform our country to ensure that this growth is not only dependent on oil,” he stated.
Dr Singh added that infrastructure plays a big part in achieving that future for Guyana. However, he outlined that the buildout of the infrastructure that is needed to lay the foundation for the country’s long-term growth will be considerable.
“It’s important that we be realistic about our expectations. We have to be realistic in our expectations… The reality is that all of us will still have to wake up and work a very hard day’s work; you know, put in the effort to generate a return and to earn a decent income – that’s the reality… This is going to take a lot of work over a long period. So, notwithstanding the justifiable excitement and euphoria about what oil and gas can do for Guyana, as a responsible Government we have to say to you also that let’s not get carried away to believe that this oil and gas will solve every problem overnight,” the Minister contended.