–says Vice President, European Investment Bank
The economic link between Brazil and Guyana via the Linden/Lethem Road can become a reality, as Vice-President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Pim van Ballekom, believes the business climate in Guyana is “welcoming”.While addressing members of the media at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown on Friday evening, van Ballekom said he and other officials of the EIB had met with President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, and other Government officials, and had discussed a range of possibilities in a well-prepared encounter.
Van Ballekom, on his first visit here, said that in addition to discussions on the local energy sector, the parties discussed the Guyana/Brazil economic link, and he asserted that there are four separate projects which fall under that linkage, among which are the Linden/Lethem road link, a hydropower project, and the rehabilitation of the Georgetown Harbour — projects which he opined should be undertaken separately.
Since they are large projects, van Ballekom said, it is up to the promoter — in this case the Government — to determine whether they should be Public/Private Partnership projects, or solely Government-funded.
He said the EIB may look for a partner, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), to undertake funding, since it does not provide 100 per cent funding for such large projects.
He said the Georgetown harbour being the possible initial project, it “will be a good thing”, and he opined that it would provide access to larger container ships. He noted that, as a stand-alone project, it would be beneficial to Guyana’s economy.
He said the EIB possesses “impressive” technical expertise in that field, as it funds habours all across the world. “So our expertise is also available for Guyana,” van Ballekom added.
As regards the Linden/Lethem Road, the top EIB official said he was informed that it is a project which is long overdue. He said a Government minister informed that the roadway should have been built some 55 years ago. He described that project as one which is “mature”, and said the task now is to examine and realise it.
The EIB has not undertaken operations here since 2000, and the visiting team’s trip is aimed at engaging both the private and public sectors.
van Ballekom said Government officials raised similar projects during the discussions, and he described the situation as well coordinated.
To this end, he said, if the EIB is to re-engage funding projects here, “we want to have people who are focused on the priorities”. He also noted that Guyana is in order.
van Ballekom said the EIB is eager to engage the private entities, either directly or via the commercial banks; since the latter would be familiar with the business opportunities on offer.
While describing the EIB as financially sound, he said it makes interventions when the economic climate is not favourable. He pointed out that the EIB’s mandate is to bridge financial gaps when other banking institutions are not willing to so do.
van Ballekom also visited the ports in Georgetown. His visit follows meetings in Suriname. According to a release from the EIB, European Ambassador to Guyana Jernej Videtic said the office is delighted to welcome the EIP delegation.
He said investment and financing opportunities will be welcome without doubt, both for the private sector and in light of the country’s green agenda.
The EIB is described as the largest multilateral public bank in the world, and 10 per cent of its lending targets investments outside of the European Union. It is owned directly by the 28 EU member states.