GEORGETOWN – At the recently concluded Investment Conference organized by the Canadian High Commissioner with the support of the U.S., EU, and UK diplomatic missions and an array of local private sector organizations and enterprises, participants were able to examine both the investment opportunities available in Guyana and some of the obstacles investors face in pursuing opportunities here.
One of the most critical elements for investors is political stability and reliability over the term of an investment. They need to know that a project, once launched, will enjoy continuing support regardless of potential political shifts. Such political stability and reliability requires political leadership that is willing to pursue policies that will advance long-term national interests, create new opportunities for people, and improve the standard of living for all.
Over the past month, the apparent demise of the Amaila Hydropower project had vividly demonstrated just how these issues can directly affect economic development and progress. Until recently the project, which has been under development for six years under Sithe Global, appeared to enjoy the implicit support of all political parties. In recent weeks, however, the project suddenly became enmeshed in political battles that had little to do with the potential of the project to generate cheaper, more reliable, and more environmentally friendly energy for decades to come.
To mitigate potential political concerns for a project that represented 25 percent of Guyana’s GDP — the biggest single investment in Guyana’s history — the investors determined that they would require a unified commitment from all of Guyana’s political parties. Such a commitment was necessary to ensure that the investment required would not become subject to a loss of support in the event of shifting political configurations.
Sadly, the country’s political parties have thus far been unable to come together to support a project that offers all citizens — of all parties — the prospect of lower electricity rates and more reliable energy. The demise of this project is likely to diminish Guyana’s future attractiveness to international investors, and make future investments in the energy sector riskier and more costly.
While the window to prevent such an occurrence is small and closing fast, we call on all political parties to come together in the national interest to support a project that all parties have long agreed is necessary to boost Guyana’s competitiveness and improve the lives of its people with less expensive and more reliable energy.