Govt looking at financial instruments to integrate diaspora in national development
…great potential to bring resources here – President
The Guyana Government is currently considering a financial instruments to integrate the Guyanese diaspora in its national development agenda through investments here.
This is according to President Dr Irfaan Ali during an appearance on an online programme hosted by US-based Guyanese Radio Broadcaster, Farook Juman.
“With the emerging oil and gas sector and the type of investments we’re making to not only strengthen the tradition[al] sectors but also open new areas and new opportunities, we see great potential for the diaspora to bring their capital resources back here. For a matter of fact, we’re now discussing financial instruments through which we can have all categories and levels of the diaspora involved and integrated into the development of our country,” he posited.
According to the Head of State, the diaspora has always played an integral part in Guyana’s development and now, his Administration wants to foster this in order to attract more investments.
The President went on to recognise the role of the overseas-based Guyanese community after the March 2020 General and Regional Elections when the country’s democracy was being undermined. He also noted that the diaspora also played a key role in supporting Guyana’s economy over the years through remittances and visits here.
“So, the diaspora, in my view, has always been a critical part to the development and advancement of our country,” Ali contended.
However, even as Government is currently refining a framework to cater specifically to the diaspora, President Ali outlined that it is important to recognise that those willing to invest here are accustomed to a certain level of service – be it public or Private Sector services.
“We have to ensure that we strengthen our systems and we improve our systems. We improve our education system and we move towards more international standards so that the movement, the decision to move [investments here] becomes easier because these are some of the critical questions that persons in the diaspora asks… You have part-time investors who come and invest their resources and go back. But in coming back on a more permanent basis, you have issues of security, issues of healthcare, education, the port services, Government services – these are critical issues too that are of interest to the diaspora and these are the areas we’re targeting and we’re investing in to improve to make it better and to ensure that we create an enabling environment,” the Head of State noted.
Moreover, he pointed out that there is a wide array of investment opportunities beyond the petroleum industry available in Guyana that can be tapped into. As such, he urged the diaspora investors to explore these.
“You can’t understand the opportunities from a third hand or a second hand. You have to come here. You have to do your research; you have to look at the areas the country is moving towards. You have to look at the opportunities and then plan your own path. So, Government can only create that enabling environment and that is what we’re doing,” the President asserted.
Massive infrastructure plans
Meanwhile, the Head of State explained during the online programme, which has a vast overseas reach, that with Guyana embarking on its massive infrastructure plans, investment opportunities will be created throughout all the administrative regions and not just centralised in Georgetown or Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) – the country’s most densely populated region.
He revealed that these transformations will be carried out on a three-scale basis. The first being at the community level, then the regional level and finally, the national level.
“We have to understand, first of all, that at the community level there is great transformation that will take place. This is the improvement of healthcare systems, improvement of road networks, educational facilities and sports facilities, and you will see a great segment of this budget that will target community needs.”
The Head of State said that his Government will place special emphasis on community needs and ensure that it creates “growth opportunities, or growth hubs within a cluster of communities that can generate employment, create sustainable development at tier one”.
At the regional level, Ali noted that the focus will be on key investment opportunities.
“Let’s take for example Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara), you will see massive investment on the shore side of the Demerara River in Region Three that will create massive opportunities and a trickledown effect. You will see development of agro facilities, agro-processing facilities. You will see greater use of the Essequibo River in terms of investment hubs. This, of course, will create various growth poles,” he added.
He said too that regional developmental infrastructure will be linked to national transformative infrastructure. This includes the new four-lane highway from the new Demerara Harbour Bridge stretching all the way to Parika, the opening up of the Wales Development Authority as well as the landing of the gas-to-shore pipeline at Wales, among others.
At the national level, some of the transformative projects include the new four-lane, high-span fixed bridge across the Demerara River, the Corentyne River bridge, the new power plant, expansion of the agriculture sector, the new bypass road linking the East Bank and East Coast of Demerara along with a number of Private Sector Initiatives. According to the President, at least five new hotels will be built over the next five years.
He said Government is also supporting Private Sector investments in the healthcare and education sectors. (G8)