As more projects unfold, Finance Minister invites int’l banks to Guyana

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Numerous projects are unfolding across Guyana as the country positions itself as a regional powerhouse and Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh called on regional and international banks to come to the small South American nation.

Dr. Singh was one of several government ministers who spoke on the third day of the Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo, being hosted at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.

He outlined the government’s current investment priorities, noting that successive national budgets demonstrate the administration’s aim of building for the future and expanding non-oil sectors so that the country isn’t reliant on its oil and gas industry.

And Dr. Singh posited that the private sector has been responsive to these investment priorities. Access to financing, however, remains a challenge.

“Many of our domestic banks are relatively small and have relatively modest balance sheets…They have been responding (to the financing needs) but there is a limit,” the Finance Minister said.

He added, “There is an opportunity for international banks to do business in Guyana.”

Foreign banking interest isn’t non-existent, according to Dr. Singh. The multilateral financing institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development (IDB) Bank are among those supporting projects in Guyana.

IDB Invest, which works with the region’s private sector, is an example of a foreign bank helping to fund private sector-led projects in Guyana.

Dr. Singh said there are other opportunities for both regional and international banks to come to Guyana and support the private sector, particularly those with clearly “bankable” projects.

The Finance Minister also spoke about the banking sector at last year’s energy conference.

Last year, he vowed that the government would amend the laws and/or regulations that are hindering local banks from issuing more loans.

The banks, he acknowledged, continue to demand more traditional forms of collateral, such as real estate. But with the increased demand for finances, this dependence brings concerns. With this obvious challenge hindering the ability of locals to invest in their businesses and increase their participation in the growing economy, Dr. Singh said changes are necessary.

In fact, he believes that “iron clad” contracts with companies, such as major international corporations like ExxonMobil, and companies’ receivables should be enough to put up as collateral when seeking a loan.

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