GUYANA and Suriname seem to be taking an integrated approach as it relates to investments. As a matter of fact, Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Co-operation, Albert Ramdin, said that the two countries, continental neighbours, are eying the possibility of merging the two economies into a single market space, thereby boosting opportunities in both territories.
Ramdin’s comments were shared during the opening of Optiek Ninon, a Surinamese-owned optical store, which opened its doors on Camp Street in Georgetown, Guyana on Thursday. Ramdin, who is part of a visiting delegation led by Suriname’s President, Chandrikpersad Santokhi, said that the opening of Optiek Ninon represents the realisation of what is being touted by President, Dr. Irfaan Ali and his Surinamese counterpart.
Ramdin said that an integrated approach is one that is convenient, owing to the closeness of the two countries and their economic similarities.
“We strongly believe that these two markets must be seen as one market,” the Suriname minister emphasised.
Similar sentiments were shared by Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, who lauded the Surinamese company for its confidence in Guyana’s economy. He further urged Guyanese companies to expand beyond Guyana’s border and explore similar investments in Suriname.
As it is, both President Ali and Santokhi have called on the private sectors of the two countries to establish partnerships for cross-border investments.
Expressing his delight that bilateral talks between Guyana and Suriname have been speedily bearing fruit, Minister Singh reminded those present that Suriname is one of Guyana’s immediate neighbours and has always been an obvious and natural option for Guyanese businesses considering expansion and vice versa.
It was explained that the expansion of Optiek Ninon to Guyana peaked after President Ali’s visit to Suriname last November, shortly after the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) assumed office. During that visit, both Presidents Ali and Santokhi shared a mutual interest in enhanced collaboration geared towards the improvement of their countries’ citizens through social and economic benefits. “At this very moment, Presidents Ali and Santokhi are meeting at the Pegasus Hotel with the private sectors of Guyana and Suriname discussing the incredibly exciting opportunities that there are for greater private sector expansion from the cross-border perspective,” Dr. Singh told those gathered at the optical store’s opening.
FORTUITOUS, SPECIAL COINCIDENCE
He related that the launch must have been “a fortuitous and particularly special coincidence,” as the private sectors of the two countries are meeting to discuss what the store’s opening ultimately demonstrates. Dr. Singh said that the launch was also symbolic due to the fact that Guyana and Suriname have been neighbours for time immemorial and while there has been movement of people back and forth across the Corentyne River, the economic potential of that proximity has not nearly realised the fullness of its potential. “President Irfaan Ali could not be more emphatic in his conviction that the private sector will be the driver of economic growth and transformation. Internally, in our respective countries we are committed to making every aspect of doing business easier and simpler, and right now work is ongoing to identify ways in which bureaucratic processes can be simplified,” Minister Singh emphasised.
Meanwhile, in congratulating the company on its 50th anniversary, Suriname’s Ramdin, expressed satisfaction that a business in his country had grown and expanded its brand in Guyana. “This is the first branch in Georgetown. Establishing Optiek Ninon in Guyana is kind of a branding of Suriname as well. We take that as a value that we should not underestimate. We strongly believe that these two markets must be seen as one single market,” Ramdin said.
He too emphasised the benefits of cross-border investments, and the need for businesses to expand their markets and create additional business opportunities. “It creates opportunities for growth, investment and employment,” the Surinamese minister noted. He also expressed hope that Guyanese businesses will also expand and open their doors in Suriname, as a means of creating opportunities for the people of his country as well.
Optiek Ninon is a leading optical business in Suriname with over 50 years of experience and six branches in that country. The new store in Guyana is its seventh and first multinational branch. The business’ founder was the late Ninon Brunings, who opened her first store in Suriname in 1971. According to the business’ representatives, Ms. Ninon’s goal and passion was to make good eyesight and good quality glasses accessible to everyone.
They expressed their enthusiasm and excitement at having ventured to Guyana to open the business’ doors and lauded Guyanese for their hospitality and welcoming spirit during the time they spent here making arrangements for the business start-up. The company has also employed a number of Guyanese as part of its team.