Pres Ali pitches investment opportunities in Guyana to Indian Private Sector

– says Guyana wants to transform “brain drain into brain gain”
– PM Modi acknowledges personal connection with Guyana

President Dr. Irfaan Ali, who is leading a Guyanese delegation to India where he will be presented with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award, also used the opportunity to pitch Guyana’s investment opportunities to the Indian private sector.

President Dr Irfaan Ali (left) shares a light moment with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Also in picture is Suriname President Chan Santokhi (right)

In his address to attendees at the Inaugural Session of the 17th Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2023 on Monday, President Dr. Irfaan Ali spoke about ties between the two countries. According to him, Guyana has benefitted from robust cooperation with India since diplomatic relations were established in 1965.
Noting that Guyana is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world due to the rapid expansion of its oil and gas sector, President Ali made a pitch to Indian investors to explore opportunities in Guyana.
“Guyana is now a much stronger economy than it has ever been. It is now the fastest growing economy in the world, registering a real GDP growth of 19.9 per cent in 2021 and growth for 2022 estimated at more than 50 per cent.”
“On this note, Prime Minister Modi, I assure you that the economic opportunity and growth and potential of Guyana is open to the entire private sector of India to participate fully and to be involved in the transformation that is taking place,” the President said.
According to the President, his government’s intention is to position Guyana to be among the leaders in the world in energy, climate and food security and other areas. He also spoke about the model the Government is pursuing, to best integrate the diaspora into the development of the country.
“They are part of us and not apart from us. As such, it is necessary when crafting policies that we seek to integrate our diaspora into the process of national development. Policies therefore should be tailored to make our diasporas integral rather than incidental to nationhood.”
“Our diaspora is integral to the One Guyana agenda… the forging of a strong sense of national identity within the diaspora is therefore central to the model of diaspora relations that we are pursuing,” the President further said.
President Ali pointed to ways in which the diaspora can be integrated into national development including through the provision of accurate and updated information. The diaspora integration model, President Ali added, also embraces a role for Guyana’s diaspora as an instrument of soft power.

Brain drain to brain gain
He said too that the country is keen to transform “brain drain into brain gain” using technology to tap into “our highly-skilled diaspora”. Notwithstanding, he stressed that diaspora policies should not be cast in stone but remain flexible and adaptable to changing realities.
“The diaspora possesses the skills and expertise that are needed for the modernization of our economy. We hope to be able to use ICTs to be able to make greater use of the wealth of skills available within the diaspora, including in providing educational and health services.”

The President lauded India’s management of its diaspora relations, while the commonalities between the two countries, including through culture and religion were also highlighted. He also bemoaned cases when misinformation is fed to the diaspora, who are led astray by destructive elements. But Ali noted that the diaspora is also strategically placed to be a positive force for the country.
“Many of the members of our diaspora are strategically placed in positions of influence to help protect and promote Guyana’s national interests overseas. We look to our diaspora to project our external interests, including to protect our democracy and to defend our territorial integrity and sovereignty, particularly from external threats.”
“We look to our diaspora to champion the international causes which are germane to our national interests, including arresting climate change. Indeed, we also look to our diaspora to wield its influence in attracting and unlocking markets for our products,” the President said.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Convention, the President said, is an essential platform for not only exchanging ideas but also for fostering deeper and stronger ties among states which have significant diasporas, such as India and Guyana. He wished the convention every success.
President Ali, who will be conferred with the prestigious Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award—India’s highest honour for overseas Indians—today, is leading a delegation on an Official Visit to India.

PM Modi, Guyana and Pres Ali
Meanwhile, President Ali clearly struck an emotional chord with PM Narendra Modi when he referred to the latter’s obvious devotion to his mother who recently passed away at the age of one hundred. The Guyanese president made it clear that such filial devotion is shared in the Indian Diaspora.
He made the connection between PM Modi and Guyana even more explicit when he reminded that the Indian Prime Minister had visited in 2000 when he was not even a Minister of Government.
In his response, in addition to promising to work closely with Guyana, PM Modi said, “I am very grateful to the President of Guyana that he shared great memories today. Because when I went to Guyana, I was nothing, not even the Chief Minister, and he recalled the relationship then. I am very grateful to him. Once again, I have come to this function for Pravasi Bharatiya Divas, I have got a chance to meet you after a gap.