Guyana inks US$150M agreement with Saudi Fund to finance housing, bridge projects

– signs another pact with IsDB, holds collab talks with UAE

The Guyana Government has signed a US$150M Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Fund for Development to provide financing for initiatives in the Housing sector as well as the Wismar Bridge project.
The MoU was inked on Friday by Senior Minister with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Saudi Fund for Development, Sultan A Al-Marshad, for the financing of these development projects in Guyana.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh at a meeting with CEO of the Saudi Fund for Development Sultan A Al-Marshad on Friday during which they signed a MoU to finance development projects in Guyana

According to a statement from the Finance Ministry, the MoU covers infrastructural development works for the housing sector and the construction of the Wismar Bridge in Linden, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) – both projects totalling US$150 million.
During the signing, Dr Singh, on behalf of the Guyana Government, thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its invaluable cooperation and partnership in Guyana’s development.
In a brief statement on its Facebook page, the Saudi Fund added that “Avenues for cooperation and vital development opportunities in #Guyana were explored” during the engagement.
As the Government of Guyana continues its aggressive drive to transform the country’s landscape, this transformation is particularly visible in the area of transport infrastructure. To this end, works have advanced on several key projects including the new US$261 million high span bridge across the Demerara River, the US$190 million Linden to Mabura Road, and a bridge across the Corentyne River. Additionally, some $136.1 billion was allocated for the enhancement of the roads and bridges network across the country in Budget 2023.
With regards to housing and urban development, Government has been working assiduously to fulfil its manifesto promise of providing 10,000 house lots to citizens each year and it has been well on the way of achieving its 50,000 target this term, with over 20,000 delivered in its first two years in office. In Budget 2023, $54.5 billion was allocated for housing development in new and existing areas.
The State-owned Saudi Fund for Development finances development projects in developing countries by granting them the necessary loans, technical aids necessary for financing studies and institutional support.
Back in July 2022, a 60-person Saudi Arabian investor delegation, led by Deputy Minister for Investors Outreach, Badr Al Badr, visited Guyana to meet with local stakeholders and to explore potential areas for collaboration.
During a Guyana-Saudi Arabia Investment Engagement, President Dr Irfaan Ali declared that Guyana’s doors are open for investments that are of a transformative nature and will benefit the people of this country.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Saudi investment delegation had urged Guyana to tap into Saudi Fund for Development.
“…We have investors in Saudi Arabia who are now a major patron, internationally, including Government-backed funds such as public investment funds. And we also have the Saudi Fund for Development. I believe there are so many projects that can be tackled by these Saudi Funds for Development,” the Deputy Minister had stated during last year’s visit.
In October last year, the IsDB approved a US$120 million loan that was sought by the Guyana Government for resurfacing the 72.43-kilometre Soesdyke-Linden Highway.

2023 IsDB Annual Meetings
Dr Singh is currently in Saudi Arabia, leading Guyana’s delegation at the 2023 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group Annual Meetings, which is being held from May 10-13.
The Guyanese Finance Minister attended the opening ceremony of the Annual Meetings at the King Abdullah Congress Centre in Jeddah on Thursday. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Partnerships to Fend off Crises.”
Delegations from the Group’s 57 member countries in addition to observers from international and regional organisations have gathered at this year’s Annual Meetings to discuss development issues and institutional matters.
Also on Friday, Dr Singh and the President of the IsDB, Dr Muhammad Al Jasser, signed a Country Engagement Framework MoU with the IsDB for green, resilient and sustainable infrastructure as well as for supporting economic diversification and doing business.
The MoU comprises two pillars with the first under the scope of ‘green, resilient and sustainable infrastructure,’ seeking to support the enhancement of base infrastructure across the energy, transport, water and sanitation sectors, and affordable housing.
Moreover, the second pillar ‘supporting economic diversification and doing business’ focuses on support for the integration of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and Digital Financial Inclusion, development of agriculture and tourism industries, support to the mining sector, Halal eco-system and Awqaf development, financial markets deepening and MSMEs (Micro Small Medium Enterprises) support through Islamic finance and trade financing support.
Last year, Minister Singh had attended the IsDB Group’s Meetings in Egypt, where he posited that the bank would continue to be a highly valued development partner for Guyana.

Meeting with UAE Minister
Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the 2023 IsDB Meetings, Dr Singh also met with the Minister of State for Financial Affairs from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Mohamed Bin Hadi Al Hussaini.
During that engagement meeting, the two Ministers discussed areas of mutual cooperation and they emphasised the value of the continued relationship between Guyana and the UAE.
Dr Singh presented an outline of current oil production offshore Guyana and projected targets over the next several years.
The two Ministers also discussed Foreign Direct Investments in the emerging oil and gas sectors as well as other industries including tourism and agriculture.
Minister Singh further highlighted his Government’s emphasis on food security and Guyana’s leadership on food security in the Caribbean during the engagement with his UAE counterpart. (G-3)