–Tourism Minister urges residents to capitalise on opportunities
WITH over 20 participating villages, a delegation from Brazil and investors from Barbados, the Tabatinga sports complex, in Lethem, Central Rupununi, was abuzz with activity on Saturday evening when the grand business and investment exposition made a return after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celebrated under the theme, “Creating a strong and secure private sector in Region Nine while supporting the One-Guyana initiative”, the event, which was hosted by the Rupununi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), saw many small businesses located in the Rupununi and Brazil displaying a variety of unique products.
While delivering the feature address, Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond, reminded everyone of the government’s continued support to the private sector and the residents of the Rupununi.
“…Our presence here today and our support for the Rupununi Expo is because of our belief that development must occur in every village, every town, every county and every region of our country, and Region Nine is no exception,” Walrond told the gathering.
The minister noted further that the government’s broad-based development vision and efforts will see great opportunities for economic prosperity in the region and other hinterland regions.
She later alluded to some of the recent initiatives that government has embarked on which will benefit the people of Region Nine.
“We are pursuing the construction of an all-weather road from Georgetown to Lethem. We have secured over UD$100 million for the segment from Linden to Mabura Hill, which is currently under construction,” she said.
According to the minister, government is looking for funding to upgrade the second half of the road from Mabura Hill to Lethem.
“When completed, the road will be a transformational catalyst for industry and commerce between Region Nine and the coast and indeed the wider world,” Minister Walrond said.
With many investors signaling their interest in the region, she noted that investment opportunities are on the horizon for the Rupununi area.
“The contemporary Expo generates interests not only within Region Nine. What we now see is participation from other regions in Guyana, from Brazil and from the Caribbean,” she added.
Meanwhile, in further reiterating the government’s support for the region’s private sector, Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai, in brief remarks said: “I am very pleased to be associated with this Rupununi business investment event… the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and, by extension, our Government of Guyana, that is the People’s Progressive Party/Civic government has been in partnership with RCCI from its very inception, and so this partnership has grown.”
In support of the event, Minister Sukhai handed over a donation of $1.5 million to the president of RCCI, Daniel Gajie.
She later emphasised government’s support for advancing the region’s agriculture, tourism, business and infrastructure sectors.
“The Rupununi economy is actually based mainly on tourism and agriculture. But, of course, we have to look further afield…we need to expand it to improve the service sector,” she said, adding that the service industry and tourism complement each other.
Also delivering remarks at the event was Minister of Housing and Water, Minister Collin Croal, who noted that while Guyana is undergoing physical transformation, the development of its people must also take place.
As such, he urged the RCCI to see that investments continue at the community level so as to ensure economic stability and development of residents.
“We would like for the chamber to also play a greater role in working with many of these communities, village councils, etc., so that they can maximise on their potential…,” Minister Croal said.