HAVING recognised the feasibility of doing business in Guyana, Assuria General and Life Insurance Companies is moving to expand its operations here. In addition to establishing an Essequibo, Region Two branch, the Surinamese entity is pursuing the construction of a GY$800 million Headquarters (HQ) on Church and Carmichael Streets in Georgetown. The project to build the modern five-storey office building is being undertaken by Nabi Construction Incorporated, with an estimated timeline of 14 months.
Delivering brief remarks at the sod-turning ceremony hosted on Wednesday, Assuria’s Managing Director, Yogindra Arjune, recalled that the company came to Guyana in 2012, prior to the emergence of the local Oil and Gas sector. “Our idea was to be part of the existing industry, while bringing new and innovative products,” Arjune said.
He noted that “This modern building is being constructed to highlight that we are here to stay and contribute to the development of Guyana.”
The Managing Director indicated that in addition to its Head Office, Assuria-Guyana currently has eight branches, all of which provide employment for 67 persons, along with 18 full-time agents. Arjune related too that Assuria is ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) certified, as the company intends to “continue to provide internationally certified service to all our clients”. In his keynote address to the ceremony, Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh said that Assuria’s decision to construct its headquarters in Guyana is a clear demonstration of the confidence that it has in the Guyanese market and the Guyanese economy, as a whole.
Specifically examining the insurance sector, Dr. Singh expressed concern that many Guyanese fail to value the importance of acquiring and maintaining insurance policies in their day-to-day lives. “There are a lot of people in Guyana who believe perhaps that insurance is a thing you can afford to do without or you take the absolute minimum insurance that is required because you must have insurance,” the Finance Minister
He emphasised that contrary to what many may believe, insurance is an indispensable component in the risk management ‘toolkit’ of any household or company. Minister Singh used the forum to encourage players within the insurance sector to improve on their public awareness and education capacity, so as to get more and more persons to understand the importance and benefits that come with being insured. Further, Minister Singh lauded Assuria for taking the step and investing in its regional expansion, pointing to the entity’s success as a demonstration of the possibilities that exist once companies step outside of their domestic market spaces. “Just as Assuria spotted an opportunity in Guyana, there is nothing to stop Guyanese companies looking beyond Guyana. There are good business opportunities outside of our domestic economic space outside of the confines of our domestic economy,” the Finance Minister noted.
He pointed to the fact that the emergence of Guyana’s Oil and Gas sector has seen many local companies improving their operations, thereby positioning themselves to effectively compete with longstanding entities of international standards. “I look forward to the Guyanese companies of today, becoming the large regional companies and the large regional conglomerates of tomorrow,” Dr. Singh said. Even as he encouraged Guyanese companies to think beyond the borders, Dr. Singh reminded that Guyana remains conducive to outside investments. “We remain open for business, and we remain a welcoming environment,” the minister said.
IMF AND THE RETURN OF OPTIMISM
Only recently, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculated Guyana’s economic growth as being double of what it was in 2020. Measuring the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the IMF’s biannual World Economic Outlook estimates that Guyana’s economy is likely to jump from 8.1 per cent to 16.4 per cent. Questioned by reporters following the sod-turning ceremony, Dr. Singh said that he is not surprised by the IMF calculations, noting that the revised projections reflect the remarkable optimism that has now returned to the Guyanese economy.
The Finance Minister believes too that the revised figures have much to do with the policies outlined in the last two national budgets. “The 2020 and 2021 budgets have sent a very clear signal of where our Government is taking economic policy and what our intentions are,” Dr. Singh said. The minister noted too that even amid great uncertainties, the Irfaan-Ali Government was able to persevere and return the country to some level of normalcy. In addition to the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic, Guyana was faced with a dramatic and protracted General and Regional Elections. “That upward revision in Guyana’s growth outlook reflects the inevitable response of the IMF to the clear signal they would have gotten in relation to the Government’s economic policy and the clear signal of renewed optimism as it relates to the economic prospect of Guyana,” Dr. Singh told reporters. By 2022, the economy is expected to grow by a further 46.5 per cent, and by 2026, economic growth is expected to be about 3.0 per cent.