President Dr Irfaan Ali said that Guyana is poised to become the most exciting investment destination in the Western Hemisphere.
The Head of State made this pronouncement during his address at the opening of the Guyana Basin Summit 2021 (GBS) held virtually this morning.
The event, which is aimed at creating investment and development opportunities in the Guyana-Suriname Basin, brings oil and gas leaders and the global energy community together during the virtual edition (17-19 March), before a physical conference is held in October in Georgetown.
“We welcome investment in the Guyana Basin as well as the multiple opportunities it will spawn within our economy… I want to take just a few moments to say to all potential investors that you need to come, you need to explore, and you need to look holistically at the varied opportunities in Guyana. Whether it is large-scale agriculture production, whether it is mining, whether it is forestry, whether it is in the healthcare system, the education system; you need to understand the varied opportunities Guyana offers for different types of investors. It is not only about oil and gas, oil and gas has really brought attention to Guyana, a sleeping giant in investment opportunities.”
President Ali noted that while the Summit is not necessarily confined to oil and gas, the sector will become a focal point during deliberations.
“In this context, the Guyana Basin is an important national resource. In terms of endowment, we have estimated that total Basin potential is around twice our proven reserves. Economically, this is important and further solidifies our position as a lucrative emerging petroleum state.”
He added that his Government intends to maximise on the many business opportunities that exist along the value chain of the country’s fledgling petroleum sector, while expanding drilling, exploration and production activities.
The President emphasised that while his Government is clear on the fundamental principles which will guide the development of Guyana’s natural resources sector, it is important for prospective and potential investors to have similar clarity.
“Our natural resources are part of our people’s patrimony. As such, these resources must be used for, and rebound to, the benefit of the people of Guyana. This is the fundamental starting point for the development of our natural resources. And it underpins our policy resource development model.”
He acknowledged that the country’s resources however are useless if they remain unexploited, therefore foreign and local capital is necessary to convert our natural resources into wealth and to generate jobs.
“As such, Guyana welcomes private investment ….Investment remains pivotal to shared prosperity. We simply lack the scale of financial, technological and human resources needed for our ambitious economic development plans. We need investment to drive our development.”
President Ali pointed out that it is necessary for the local private sector to become more involved in the planned economic transformation, and to grow and develop through synergies and partnerships with foreign businesses. To enable this, he pointed to the importance of the draft local content policy and law, which is aimed at spurring a stronger and more robust local business environment.
President Ali assured that Government remains committed to ensuring a model of development which provides benefits for present and future generations and “will not sacrifice long-term benefits for short-term gains”.
“We are uncompromising when it comes to respecting our people, especially our workers. We insist that the rights of our workers be respected and that investors comply with our labour laws.”
He said that it is Government’s intention to work with local and international investors in every dimension of this economy so as to ensure thriving economic sectors over the next five years and beyond.
The President pointed to the strides made by his administration, since assuming office in the latter half of 2020, to rekindle investor and consumer confidence.
“This year, we will continue to fashion a stronger, more resilient and investor-friendly economy. In our National Assembly, we have just passed our annual Budget which manifests our commitment to human safety, dignity, attracting large-scale private investment in the traditional and newly-emerging sectors, investing in transformative infrastructure, developing world-class services, including social services, and laying the groundwork for structural transformation. Indeed, what you will see in the next five years is an explosion of housing construction, and the foundation being laid for manufacturing and industrial development…Our outlook for this year and beyond is extremely promising.”
CONDUCIVE AND ENABLING BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT
He said that while Guyanese can anticipate continuous and progressive improvements in their living standards so too will investors enjoy progressively greater opportunities and rewards.
“Of course, the oil and gas sector is going to be instrumental in our national development framework. But our development plans, as I have indicated, do not revolve exclusively around oil and gas but involve all sectors of the economy. The Government, as I have said continuously, is committed to establishing both a conducive and enabling environment for business development.”
With regards to their role in national development, President Ali said that his Government’s plans stretch from large-scale agricultural investments and related projects to mega infrastructure, which includes bridges, a road to Brazil, a deep-water harbour, housing communities and urban centres, port facilities, digital technology, industrial parks and energy development.
“As a matter of fact, we have commenced discussions with Suriname, our neighbour, in the development of the Energy Corridor…where we are going to develop one of the most competitive energy corridors along the Guyana shield….Brazil and French Guiana too will play important roles in that development.”
The President said that the major catalyst for industrialisation will be the planned gas-to-shore energy project.
He said that this will afford our economy the opportunity to have an enhanced manufacturing sector and allow Guyana to become an industrial powerhouse, a model energy state, the breadbasket of the region, the Silicon Valley of the Caribbean, and a sustainable tourism paradise.
GBS 2021 is a uniquely global summit that will provide a platform for the industry to forge partnerships, showcase innovation and drive commerce forward.
Guyana’s representatives at the summit also included Minister within the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh; Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat; Minister of Public Works, Juan Edghill; Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar, Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga; CEO of Go-Invest, Dr Peter Ramsaroop and Guyana Energy Agency CEO, Dr Mahender Sharma.