By Vishani Ragobeer
The United Kingdom (UK) has designated millions of dollars in development aid for Guyana and other Caribbean countries but President Dr. Irfaan Ali says that UK investors have not aggressively pursued the abundant investment opportunities in Guyana.
The Guyanese Head of State said this while talking up investment opportunities here during an investment seminar held at the Carlton House in the UK.
According to Dr. Ali, lucrative investment opportunities exist outside of Guyana’s nascent oil and gas sector – be it in expanded agricultural production, forestry or tourism and hospitality.
“As I speak to you today, the UK has earmarked, notionally, maybe 750 million pounds as development aid that Guyana can qualify for through investment, infrastructure development (and) infrastructure transformation.
“But what is missing is the aggressiveness from the private sector here in the UK and the (European Union) generally,” the President, however, lamented.
Based on previous reports, former UK High Commissioner to Guyana Greg Quinn said that the UK financing does not have any “strings attached” and as such, UK investors would not be given any preference. Once this funding is tapped into, anyone can capitalise on potential investments.
And President Ali seemed to address this. He acknowledged questions about Chinese investors and their track record of quickly capitalising on emerging markets and investment opportunities.
He said that based on Guyana’s experience, the Chinese pursue investment opportunities more aggressively.
“Their [Chinese] aggression is far different,” he told a gathering of potential UK investors.
Importantly, though, the President said that investors from other countries are quickly ‘stepping up’ their aggression and offering better investment proposals to Guyana.
For example, he said that the government recently finalised financing for the forthcoming children’s hospital with an EU country that offered “better terms” than the Chinese. According to previous reports, the government is partnering with Austrian investors for the development of a new maternal and children’s hospital.
Additionally, the President said that United States (US) investors have promised to provide better financing terms for another project they are eyeing.
And he called on the UK investors to quickly identify opportunities in Guyana and start investing, noting that it is becoming increasingly expensive to invest in Guyana each passing day.
Investing in the diversification at Guyana’s sugar estates and even in the planned new city, Silica City, are among those areas the President believes that UK investors can capitalise on.
And he assured them that the government is keen on providing much-needed support and key investment incentives.
“In this investment forum, it is not only about understanding where the opportunities are but understanding how we can get to those and the resources that are there to support us in some of these opportunities,” the Guyanese Head of State emphasised.
Earlier this year, a visiting British Trade Mission delegation eyed concrete agreements with the government and the local private sector because of high interest in the development of shore base port facilities and the agriculture sector.
Managing Director of the Caribbean Council, Chris Bennett, the head of the 15-member delegation said that though the team has only been in Guyana for two days, the investment prospects they have been privy to show much potential and can spark a “beautiful partnership.”
Bennett added that the Trade Delegation is also equally interested in the government’s Wales Development Zone and the billion-dollar Gas-to-Shore project.