By Kurt Campbell
International firms from the United States (U.S) that have taken steps to expand their operations to Guyana have expressed concerns about procurement procedures, lengthy timelines for permits and uncertain approval processes.
This is according to United States Ambassador to Guyana Sarah Ann Lynch; she was speaking during the Third Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) on Wednesday at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC).
According to the U.S Diplomat, these challenges persist even when the companies follow the submission guidelines, but President Irfaan Ali who was also present at the event reasserted the importance of a single window process to guard against existing barriers.
“My administration will work aggressively to address the challenges of doing business in Guyana. Already, we are working to create a single window where investors will have to submit one set of documents and every regulator can then access it.
“This will facilitate the granting of licenses and other necessary instruments requirement in doing business,” the Head-of-State said.
According to President Ali, the government is serious about eliminating the tedious process that has been frustrating foreign companies looking to do business in Guyana. There are also other initiatives underway to improve the investment climate, Dr. Ali told the gathering.
Ambassador Lynch believes that shifting the focus to higher-quality bids and adapting internationally recognised best practices to securely digitalise public procurement processes will help foster a more level playing field for aspiring Guyanese firms and U.S. businesses to compete for critical infrastructure projects and ultimately deliver better value to the Guyanese people.
“Traditional barriers to growth like high energy costs, ageing roads, bridges, and other critical infrastructure require investment and modernisation. If addressed properly, this could unlock a new economic boom in manufacturing and value-addition in the agricultural sector.
“However, if the right investments aren’t made in quality, lasting energy and transportation infrastructure, today’s low-cost bids could mean a high cost of doing business persists into tomorrow,” Ambassador Lynch added.
She supported Guyana’s push for a local content policy and said the U.S. government and the U.S. private sector look forward to a finalised local content policy and amended Natural Resource Fund (NRF) legislation that sets a realistic path forward.
The local content policy, Lynch explained, should strike a balance between protecting Guyana’s human capital while also creating a welcoming atmosphere for international investors.
If done correctly, the Ambassador said, the policy could serve as an incentive to form partnerships and joint ventures that enable both U.S. and Guyanese firms to share expertise, best practices, and profit together across many sectors.
“But U.S. companies aren’t waiting for a local content policy to start investing in Guyana’s people, because they know this is good for business in both the short and long terms. For example, Lone Star College out of Texas just signed an MoU with the AmCham to do more on education,” Lynch stated.