By Kurt Campbell
Several well-established multi-million dollar businesses from India have registered serious interest in coming to Guyana and setting up operations here, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Dr. K.J Srinivasa told the News Room in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.
Speaking at the side-lines of a contract signing at the Ministry of Public Works, the Indian High Commissioner said Rail India Technical and Economic Service Limited (RITES) Ltd and Ashoka Construction Company, the two India-based firms constructing and supervising the construction of the Ogle to Eccles Road link, will soon establish offices here.
Beyond that, other major Indian companies, such as Shapoorji Paloonji and Company Limited – the Indian company that built the Guyana National Stadium in 2007 – has also expressed an interest in returning to Guyana and setting up operations here.
It comes as the government, with the country’s newfound oil wealth, is leading several transformational infrastructural projects across the country with a promise to deliver to the Guyanese people massive physical development in the coming years.
Dr. Srinivasa said already the Indian High Commission is working with the Government of Guyana, the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest), the Private Sector Commission (PSC), the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) along with other stakeholders to send a delegation from Guyana to India.
The reason of such a visit would be to brief investors in India on the opportunities in Guyana.
“You see people with the internet already know, but when you mount a mission with the specific purpose for investment – an Investment Road Show we call it.
“That is something we are working upon to take later this year to India,” the High Commissioner told the News Room.
Apart from that, he said the two countries are looking to establish a Joint India/Guyana Chamber of Commerce just like what was done with other countries like the United States and Canada.
Apart from road works, the Indian Government is also assisting the Guyana Government on other major projects, including the recent construction of a ferry there. Soon, work will start on the Indian-funded hospital here.
“It’s like a big welcoming and the piggyback by smaller people.”
“Apart from all this, IT [information technology] companies are interested, digital payment system companies are interested… suddenly there is a flurry of interest,” the Indian diplomat as he also acknowledged the small Indian traders and professionals who are already in Guyana running businesses like universities.
TRADE AT OVER US$200M
Asked for the latest update on trade between the two countries, the Indian High Commissioner said it stood at over US$200 million last year with the two lifts of oil India bought from Guyana.
But apart from that, it is sometimes hard to calculate because trade between Guyana and India is mostly routed through third-party countries.
But normally, bilateral trade is only US$50 million annually.
The High Commissioner said this would change once the Indian companies come here with a focus on participating in the oil and gas sector.
Only last week, he offered India up as Guyana’s development partner, stating that its support does not come with any preconditions nor any expectations of favours.
India is not the only bilateral partner that has signaled an interest in being an integral part of Guyana’s development. Canada, China, the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States of America (USA) have all signalled strong support for Guyana’s developmental priorities.
Public Works Minister Juan Edghill, at the recent contract signing ceremony for the forthcoming Ogle to Eccles roadway, noted that Guyana has no preference for investors coming in.
On Wednesday he said, “I don’t want people to besmirch or create the impression that something is unusual between Guyana and India. I want to make it clear that the two countries are in cooperation. We have bilateral relations and, in our engagements, we follow laws of both Guyana and India.”