Visionless APNU/AFC will not dictate the pace of Guyana’s development – Edghill tells Jordan

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L-R: Minister of Public Works Juan Edghill and former Finance Minister Winston Jordan

Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, who has some responsibilities for finance, has lashed out at former Finance Minister Winston Jordan, making it clear that the APNU/AFC coalition is in no position, nor was it qualified, to dictate the pace of Guyana’s development.

Edghill was responding to a letter written by Jordan and endorsed by Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon claiming that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government and Private Sector should tread carefully with deals struck with the US development bank, International Development Finance Corporation (IDFC).

“No one of the likes of Winston Jordan or the visionless band of the APNU/AFC will dictate the pace of Guyana’s development. They have already been rejected by the electorate. We are determined to prosper Guyana for all Guyanese and we will enter into the best deals with the best terms that will have the best results in the best interest of all Guyanese,” Edghill told this publication on Monday.

The Minister, who recently presented the 2020 Emergency Budget, said that Jordan’s letter came as no surprise to the Administration.

He noted that the PPP/C Government led by Dr Irfaan Ali would continue to better the lives of Guyanese by affording them opportunities for growth and development.

“It is no surprise that people who demonstrated the highest degree of incompetence, mismanagement of the economy, that showed no remorse when they committed acts of maladministration, placed Guyana into real difficulties would make criticisms of a genuine attempt to bring accelerated development to Guyana. We will continue to explore possibilities with all of our developmental partners to ensure that Guyanese get the benefits they deserve,” Edghill said.

He further stated that the APNU/AFC spent more than $1.3 trillion and really have nothing to show and as such, the PPP/C Government was not surprised that it was criticising the move to bring investments to Guyana.

“But whether it is America, Canada, United Kingdom, European Union, China, India, Brazil or any of our partners, we will work with them to ensure that we get the best deals,” Edghill reiterated.

IDFC Head Adam Boehler recently led an investment mission to Guyana where he affirmed that while the US would be supporting American companies here to engage in massive infrastructural projects, support would similarly be provided to Guyanese companies as well. Boehler’s visit was a means of the US activating the Framework Agreement/Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by President Ali and US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo last month.

Pompeo had also signed a Framework Agreement to strengthen cooperation in various sectors, including energy and infrastructure, under the umbrella of the Growth in the Americas Initiative, with Foreign Affairs Minister Hugh Todd.

However, speaking at a joint press conference with Pompeo following the signing of the Framework, President Ali had explained that this agreement would not only pave the way for the US Private Sector to expand its investment portfolio here but also partner with the Guyanese Private Sector.

Meanwhile, Harmon, at a press conference on Monday, said that while they welcomed the over US$60 billion investment, they were also urging the Government and Private sector to tread carefully. He endorsed the contents of Jordan’s letter in which he sought to shake investors’ confidence in the IDFC.

“We the Guyanese people learnt that this was one of the agreements signed by the PPP regime and Secretary of State Pompeo on his recent visit to Guyana … what we are concerned about is the fact that this regime has signed such an agreement and the ordinary people of Guyana are unaware of the full terms and conditions of it, the payment to be made, and the impact of any investment which will have a direct effect on their lives, and the issue of default,” Harmon said.

Jordan, in the letter to the press, said in spite of the bounties that oil would bring, it was important for Guyana to explore all avenues for additional resources – especially concessional resources – in view of the huge deficits that exist in the country’s social, physical, and economic infrastructure.

Speaking specifically to the opportunities for Private Sector collaboration with the IDFC, Jordan said that Private Sector Commission (PSC) Chair Nicholas Boyers’ excitement gave the impression that the local Private Sector was starved of access to foreign funding. However, he said that was far from the truth, since there was a lot of funding sources which are opened to viable projects.

“A word of caution to the Private Sector and the policymakers: while we should not look a gift horse in the mouth, care and extreme caution should be exercised as you engage new sources of funding,” the letter stated.

Jordan said that IDFC either provided financing to US companies, which would then be used to undertake projects in developing countries or provided supplemental development financing to countries in cases where there was either a lack of Private Sector capacity or inclination to provide financing.

“The IDFC classifies Guyana as an upper middle-income country. This likely means that any financing provided would be on non-concessional terms characterised by high and potentially variable interest rates and relatively short repayment periods. It should also be noted that there is a preponderance of fees associated with financing obtained from the IDFC, which would result in elevated borrowing costs,” Jordan said in an effort to raise concerns.

As Finance Minister, Jordan was involved in the giving away of a number of acres of State land in the run-up to and after the March 2 General and Regional Elections. A number of those developers have since returned the lands.

Earlier this month, American Marine Services Incorporated retuned 20 acres of land at Ogle on the East Coast of Demerara (ECD) to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL). American Marine Services Incorporated, on February 5, entered into an Agreement of Sales with NICIL for the 20 acres that it has since returned. It related that the reason for returning the land is solely based on the circumstances surrounding the vesting of the property.

The company, located at Lot 215 Cross Street and Mandela Avenue, Alexander Village, was granted the land by NICIL on the basis of a signed order by Jordan on June 11, 2020. It added that it looked forward to working with NICIL and the Government towards achieving our development goals.

Just last month, Navigant Builders Incorporated – the developers of the Windsor Estate housing community – returned several acres of land at Goedverwagting and Sparendaam on the East Coast of Demerara to the State to facilitate a “more transparent” process in issuing State lands. Several other investors have returned the land they acquired through the APNU/AFC Government.

However, subsequent to the March 2 General Elections, the companies said they made no attempts to initiate any transfer of lands or advance their respective projects. It was reported that before it demitted office, the APNU/AFC transferred several tracts of land to developers.

It was previously reported that Bosai Minerals Group also had a total of 1.427 acres of land transferred to it by NICIL through an order signed by Jordan.