British investors told of demand for private education, hospitals in Guyana
British investors who are currently part of a UK government-supported trade mission in Guyana were Wednesday told of the rapidly growing demand for private education and private health care services here.
“We want more private schools, private universities and private hospitals and we are looking to attract these investments,” Dr. Ashni Singh, Minister of Finance, said at the signing of a partnership agreement between Guyana and the United Kingdom (UK) at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.
Members of the Cabinet and local private sector actors joined members of the trade mission and key members of the UK government for the event.
Dr. Singh said while Guyana, the fastest growing economy in the world, has attracted immense and heightened interest as a new producer of oil and gas, he wanted British companies to also be aware of the opportunities in the non-oil sectors.
He said while education and healthcare may not be an immediate spinoff, the government has identified it as a priority in its development plan; so much so that the government is open to private investors supporting its push for world-class public and private services.
The government, soon after assuming office in 2020, removed corporate taxes on education and healthcare.
Dr. Singh reminded of this on Wednesday and said it was to support the obvious and immediate investment needed in the sectors.
“The growing middle class in Guyana with disposable income, and indeed the entire Guyanese population, wants their child to get the best possible education and so the market for private education is already growing rapidly.”
Dr. Singh said this has presented the opportunity for international schools to provide an alternative pathway.
“So, the nexus between oil and gas and education may not be immediate or a first-order kind of obvious nexus but I can tell you there is a rapidly growing demand for private education,” he added.
But although he highlighted these sectors, the Finance Minister assured that irrespective of the sector foreign companies chose to invest in, there remains an abundance of opportunities in Guyana.
“We want more world-class companies, world-class producers of goods, and world-class providers of services present in Guyana and we anticipate and look forward to as many of those coming from the United Kingdom,” the Finance Minister added.
His encouragement did not fall on deaf ears, with visiting UK Trade Commissioner for Latin America and the Caribbean Jonathan Knott noting that the UK government shares the Guyana government’s vision on healthcare and education.
He also pointed to possible investments in infrastructure, faster and greener growth, building capacity across sectors, food and energy security and helping Guyana to become a hub for economic activity and a gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.
He said the visit is to guarantee the quality of the support the UK can offer to Guyana.
The engagements between Guyana and the UK have already led to the signing of an agreement between one established Guyanese company and companies apart of the trade mission.
Already too, the two sides have identified several strategic areas to forge partnerships.
“This government welcomes immensely the heightened interest shown by British companies to do business in Guyana,” Dr. Singh said.
“We are appreciative of the efforts made by all agencies of his Majesty’s Government,” Dr. Singh added.
He said there are clear and visible efforts made to promote increased trade and economic linkages between Guyana and the UK and thanked High Commissioner Jane Miller for her efforts.
Miller also spoke at Wednesday’s engagement and reminded that this visit was set in train when President Irfaan Ali visited the UK and met with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“During that meeting relationship was strong… Mr. Johnson asked us to develop an ambitious partnership and to deepen the work we were already doing,” Miller disclosed.
“Now we will get down to the nitty-gritty and look at key priorities for Guyana that the UK can respond to,” she added.
Supported in her brief comments, Trade Commissioner Knott said: “We want to look across a range of sectors and support.”
At the conclusion of discussions, there will be a joint UK/Guyana working group that will define and deliver a time-bound action plan.
For swift progress, Knott suggested that they move towards identifying commercial collaboration to support infrastructural development, planning and management
He was keen to note that UK education providers are willing to come to Guyana and help spur innovation and research.
Knott said the collaboration will include education technology to support the Guyana Government’s vision for a world-class cutting-edge education sector in the country.
Collaboration is also expected in the areas of housing and tourism.