–at ‘Guyana means business’ confab in New York
By Ariana Gordon in New York
MINISTER of Business Dominic Gaskin sees having preferential access to a number of international markets as being a distinct advantage of doing business with Guyana.
Guyana’s Ambassador to China, Bayney Karran, however, sees things a bit differently. “The best possible position for an investor to be in is to get in now ahead of the curb, so that you are already there when things start to happen,” he told the scores of potential investors and other interested parties gathered Friday in New York to talk business with leading government officials.
Appropriately tagged ‘Guyana means business’, the event, essentially an investment conference, was held at the Harvard Club of New York on West 44th Street, and saw among government officials in attendance Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan; and Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson.
Minister Gaskin, who now has portfolio responsibility for the tourism sector, started off by conceding that as a small country that lacks the financial resources and expertise to fully exploit its natural wealth, Guyana looks to investors to assist in the process.
Noting that the lack of financial and other resources doesn’t mean that Guyana isn’t ready for business, Minister Gaskin said:
“More than that, we know that Guyana is a profitable place to do business; many types of businesses are trying to continue to make a profit and expand business in Guyana, in spite of a challenging business environment.”
He, however, cautioned that it is imperative that investors understand the government’s vision for the local economy, as the APNU+AFC administration is serious about its approach to business in Guyana.
By way of proving just how serious it is, Gaskin said, “Today, we are bringing a message: This is an investment conference in a foreign country, and there are four ministers of the government present here. “Please interpret that as a signal that our government is serious about bringing business to Guyana.”
The first to admit that constraints and limitations do not always allow the administration to fulfil its tasks as quickly as it would like to, Gaskin said:
“If we appear to not be delivering as you believe we should, please note that it is not for want of effort or understanding, but simply a lack of capacity within the governing apparatus that we have inherited. This is not meant to be an excuse; there is no excuse for not delivering.”
But, he said, being a democracy, Guyana has a mandate to fulfil all of the promises made to the people who elected the present administration to office, and as such the APNU+AFC administration will do everything in its power to deliver during its term in office.
“When I speak about the constraints facing our government,” Gaskin said, “I do so in the context of the claim that ‘Guyana means business’; and I am saying to you that in spite of the constraints, Guyana means business.”
That said, Minister Gaskin went on to call investors’ attention to the many possibilities that exist here in the area of natural resources, from gold, to diamonds, bauxite and oil, hardwoods, fish, rice, coconuts, land, fresh water, wind and sun, as well as preserved rainforests, wetlands and savannahs with natural eco-systems that have become learning centres for researchers including botanists, and zoologists.
He also touched briefly on the fact that despite the many challenges in the business sector, Guyana has yet seen an average growth rate of 4.3% in the past 10 years, except for last year.
“Most of our neighbouring countries are in crisis; many are experiencing negative growth, so Guyana is a good place to do business,” Minister Gaskin said, adding in closing:
“Pursue development of value-added export industries, so as to reduce Guyana’s dependency on the handful of primary products which it has relied on since before independence to give it foreign earnings.”
Also present at the investment conference were Chairman of the 50th Independence Celebrations New York Committee Rickford Burke; Private Sector Commission (PSC) representative, Captain Gerry Gouveia; and Travel Span’s Chief Executive Officer, Nohar Singh.