Media Advisory: Transforming Guyana, Episode VIII: Investment Security in Guyana

Production of the Guyana Business Journal & Caribbean Policy Consortium.

January 17, 2023

MEDIA ADVISORY: Transforming Guyana, Episode VIII: Investment Security in Guyana

Speakers:

  • Terrence Blackman: Founder, Guyana Business Journal
  • David E. Lewis: VP, Manchester Trade Ltd. Inc. & Fellow, Co-Chair, Caribbean Policy Consortium
  • Komal Samaroo: Executive Chairman of Demerara Distillers Limited
  • Patricia Francis: Chairperson of Trade Facilitation Task Force & fmr Executive Director ITC, fmr President JAMPRO
  • Scott MacDonald: Caribbean Policy Consortium, and chief economist at Smith’s Research & Gradings
  • Andrew Schnitzer da Silva: CCO, Ascending Ltd., Workforce, Marine, Technical Training and Procurement

Key Quotes

  • Scott MacDonald:
    • “While a lot of other countries are struggling, Guyana is moving in the right direction. Guyana is transforming and transformation is not an easy process.”
    • “Guyana is definitely on the map for foreign investment, it is attracting it within Latin America and we’re talking about a country with less than a million people. Guyana came in seventh in 2021 in terms of foreign investment. For a small country on the shoulder of South America, Guyana in many regards is punching above its weight.”
    • “It’s key to have awareness of what’s going on in the global economy, where you are, and in other words to put it mildly don’t get cocky Guyana. You’ve had a lot of success, you’ve moved ahead, you’re transforming the economy, you’re getting a socio-economic facelift but don’t get cocky about it because we live in a very competitive world.”
    • “As we’re doing the great energy shift globally, it’s critical Guyana moves to develop non-fossil fuels sectors, that goes from small medium-sized enterprises, offshore office centers, BPOs, the whole range of industry; but there’s no reason why Guyanese companies can’t issue forth from Guyana.”
    • “There’s a shopping list that goes with the vision thing for Guyana, that is the policy mix of improving education, development of human capital is critical, diversification from non-oil sectors, promotion of foreign direct invest but also promotion of local investment. We want to see a more competitive private sector in Guyana and I think that’s very critical.”
    • “Guyana’s transformation is definitely in motion, it has critical momentum, but the trick going forward is how do you keep the momentum, how do you keep those reforms going and how do you main the consensus in Guyanese society that this is the vision of where we want to go. I think the prospects are very good for Guyana, but there’s a lot of challenges that sit here.”
  • Andrew Schnitzer da Silva:
    • “What I see happening in Guyana is in a way much different from what I saw happening in the beginning of the century in Angola and what I am experiencing right in Mozambique, there is willingness to transform and to create better ways to attract investors, but at the same time I feel that on the ground there is still a lack of understanding of the huge impact that this discovery can entail. There is still not a clear understanding of all the requirements and of all the efforts that need to be made in order to attract foreign investment.”
    • “There is some sense of fear that maybe the foreign investors are going to keep the whole ‘gold’ in the gold rush, so there is also still some weariness into how to accept and to how to collaborate with foreign investors coming. It is difficult to penetrate and I think that happens naturally.”
    • “Guyana does have a small population, does have a huge task ahead of itself and it could profit a lot from creating collaborative ways of investing in developing its infrastructure, in developing its resources, and in looking at digging up the ‘gold’ a lot quick than it will be able to do by wanting to do it by itself.”
  • David E. Lewis:
    • “So there’s that risk and that danger that all this focus on the oil and gas crowds out the reality of the need to do the basic day-to-day homework of modernizing the economy, streamlining bureaucratic and regulatory procedures, and really get beyond and overcome still what I would call ‘hangover’ of the 60s and 70s and that state-controlled period. The view that there’s nothing good about what has been the experience of Guyana with foreign investors. I think you know that is still a work in progress and to the degree that we can begin to focus more on some of these new success stories beyond oil and gas.”
  • Komal Samaroo:
    • “Because we did not have a competitive environment, local production became a challenge, we could not compete against imports coming in, the cost of power, the shortage of skills, the lack of capital. I believe that with the situation where power cost is going to come down, infrastructure is being put in place and where there is more availability of capital, I think companies are looking to invest in areas that result in products that previously were imported can be available locally.”
  • Patricia Francis:
    • “Certainly with respect to the regional artists, I think this is probably one of the most important of this opportunity of Guyana. I think Guyana’s very small population cannot actually grow in this on a global basis unless they somehow integrate into the region, and by that I don’t only mean CARICOM I also mean South America because as things begin to transform and move there is going to be need for the industry to come out and [speak] about can it live on 800,000 people or does it need to expand into other markets.”
    • “Any of the industries that you’re talking about […] the infrastructure to support those and the kind of ecosystem on which you build those industries is going to be critical and important, so once you start talking about producing for a global market you’ve got to think about how [you’re] going to move those goods or how you’re going to move those goods by sea or by air.”
    • “I think also again the local content act recognizes this to a large extent, but I think the government has certainty that this is going to be a moving target as they build capacity, both huge physical and also institutional in order to support industries as they move forward.”

Terrence Blackman, Ph.D., Founder & CEO Guyana Business Journal terrence.blackman@guyanabusinessjournal.com

Dr. David E. Lewis, Fellow and Co-Chair, Caribbean Policy Consortium DavidLewis@ManchesterTrade.com

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