Finance minister invites int’l banks to Guyana, as opportunities for investments expand

Speaking on the third day of the Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo being hosted at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown, Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh declared that transformation is taking place in every sector of the economy, and Guyana is the premier destination for investments worldwide.
According to him, numerous projects are unfolding across Guyana as the country positions itself to become a regional powerhouse; and he called on regional and international banks to open branches in Guyana because
stakeholders have, in Guyana, a strong performer over the long term, and, in particular, a Government with a demonstrably sustained track record of responsible fiscal management.

Senior Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh addressing the Guyana Energy Conference and Supply Chain Expo

In outlining Government’s current investment priorities, Dr Singh noted that the administration’s aim is to build for the future, and expand the non-oil sectors to reduce the country’s reliance on its oil and gas industry.
Positing that the Private Sector has been responsive to these investment priorities, he noted that access to financing remains a challenge.
“Many of our domestic banks are relatively small, and have still relatively modest balance sheets…They have been responding (to the financing needs), but there is a limit beyond which they are challenged to respond…So, there is an opportunity for international banks to do business in Guyana,” Finance Minister Dr Singh disclosed.
Foreign banking interest isn’t non-existent in Guyana, according to Dr. Singh. Multilateral financing institutions like the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) are among those supporting projects in Guyana. IDB Invest, which works with the region’s Private Sector, is an example of a foreign bank helping to fund Private Sector-led projects in Guyana, he explained.
Dr. Singh has said there are other opportunities for both regional and international banks to come to Guyana and support the Private Sector, particularly where there are clearly “bankable” projects.
“Guyana could easily and obviously be considered to be the regional hub for whatever investments you might be considering, whatever commercial or business operations you might be considering to locate in Guyana…In many cases, some of these companies have contracts with Exxon or with Exxon Tier-One contractors, so there are very bankable prospects,” Dr. Singh explained.

Bank of America and Citibank
In September 2023, President Dr Irfaan Ali had said that Guyana had engagements with at least two major United States-based commercial banks on expanding their services here. Those two banks are Bank of America and Citibank.
“We are developing our [financial] market; our market will become more sophisticated in the future: the financial services will be much more robust, and the financial services will be extended; so, these major financial institutions are all coming. We had not only meetings with the Bank of America, but we had a lot of ongoing meetings with Citibank and other banks across the globe,” the President had said during a press conference held at State House.
A few days prior to that comment, President Ali, Senior Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh and Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat had met with representatives from the Bank of America who were in Guyana on an exploratory mission.
The visiting delegation had included the Managing Director – Global Energy Corporate Banking, Donald Ward Rickertsen; Managing Director – Head of Global Export Agency Finance, Patrick William Gang, and Director – Regional Corporate Banking, Diego Armando Torres-Luna. Asked about that meeting, the Head of State had told this publication he had indicated to the Bank of America officials that his government is looking to have another commercial bank of international standing operating in Guyana.

Severed ties
Back in 2016, under the then A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition Administration, the Bank of America had severed ties with financial institutions in the Caribbean, including Guyana, over money laundering concerns. In a notice at the time, Bank of America had informed that it was severing its corresponding relationship with “indigenous banks” in Guyana. However, President Ali had said this matter had not been raised during his engagements with the US-based bank officials.
“Not one second [was spent] on it. They were totally enthusiastic about Guyana, and they were gung-ho on Guyana. They were telling us about all the prospects they’re seeing, and how viable [those are]. And that has been the story of all the investors and all those who are coming,” Ali had said.
Bank of America, one of the world’s leading financial institutions, serves individuals, small- and middle-market businesses, large corporations, and governments with a full range of banking, investment management, and other financial and risk management products and services. The bank was founded in San Francisco, California in 1923. It is the second-largest banking institution in the United States, after JPMorgan Chase, and the second-largest bank in the world by market capitalisation.
Citibank is the consumer division of financial services multinational Citigroup. Citibank was founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York, and later became the First National City Bank of New York. Citibank provides credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, commercial loans, and lines of credit.