Cheaper travel to Barbados than Guyana’s Rupununi – US Ambassador champions lower costs, partnerships
High domestic electricity prices have long driven up local business costs, be it production or travel, but United States (US) Ambassador to Guyana Sarah-Ann Lynch has backed efforts at lowering these costs.
“… Guyana continues to have high electricity and other costs that make it an expensive place for tourists.
“For both expatriates and Guyanese, it is often cheaper and easier to vacation in Barbados or Miami than it is in the South Rupununi- though (the South Rupununi) is worth it,” the Ambassador said at the Guyana Manufacturing and Services Association (GMSA)’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday at the Princess Ramada Hotel, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
Like the high cost associated with tourism, Ambassador Lynch highlighted that there are high business costs in Guyana that curtail productivity and profitability.
But that can all change if Guyana is able to cut its electricity costs and diversify the local economy.
The Ambassador explained that while Guyana is poised to experience favourable economic growth, largely due to the oil and gas industry, economic growth must help herald much-needed economic diversification.
That means investing in other non-oil sectors and making them competitive enough to compete with the oil and gas sector. This economic diversification, however, requires efforts at driving down electricity costs and making electricity more reliable. The US diplomat said it also requires high-quality infrastructure.
Without this economic diversification and efforts at making non-oil sectors more competitive, Guyana may fall prey to the infamous Dutch Disease.
Because of this disease, an economy may experience distorted development where there is a boom in one sector of the economy (such as the oil and gas sector) while other sectors (like agriculture and manufacturing) may be left shrunk, neglected or marginalised
“… diversification will serve as a guard rail for Guyana against the Dutch Disease,” the Ambassador said.
She didn’t only emphasise the need for these lower costs but she championed the inclusion of US businesses.
“… because of these binding constraints, we are encouraging local businesses to consider partnering with US firms who want to partner in the long-term development of Guyana,” the Ambassador said.
She also explained that these firms- some of which are reputable, global powerhouses- can bring the much-needed ‘know-how’ and capital to help develop the local sphere.
Though these firms have high standards and operate with numerous rules and regulations, the Ambassador said that Guyanese businesses should not be deterred from pursuing partnerships.
“Guyana has the opportunity to benefit greatly from the involvement of U.S. firms, and as I mentioned, the arrival of U.S. firms does not necessarily bring competitors, but rather partners,” the Ambassador said.
Meanwhile, GMSA Head Rafeek Khan told the News Room that Guyanese businesses appear hesitant to partnerships but he said that the body, like the wider private sector, is working to forge partnerships that allow Guyanese businesses to leverage the experience and standards of foreign companies.