President Bharat Jagdeo meets supporters
in Georgetown, Guyana. Guardian file photo.
Some weeks ago, Geoffrey Da Silva, the CEO of the Guyana
Office for Investment (Go-Invest) addressed the 17th Annual
Investment Conference of Development Finance Ltd and we now
reprint relevant parts of his address as it is the Chambers
view that businesses looking to invest regionally should consider
Guyana as a possible option.
The Government of Guyana is implementing new policies to
transform Guyana from a low income country to a middle income,
semi-industrial one by creating a business-friendly environment
that is promoting the growth of a dynamic private sector and
improving the quality and skill level of its labour force.
The two major constraints in Guyana are a lack of significant
economic diversification and significant foreign direct investment.
During the last five years, more than 150 foreign investors
from 14 countries, (mainly from the United States, Canada,
Malaysia, T&T and Brazil) have established businesses,
especially in the mining, forestry, information and communications
technology, tourism and food processing sectors.
More than 130 domestic investors also invested in the Guyanese
economy, especially in the sectors mentioned above.
The export of value-added products to higher-earning specialty
markets is essential for Guyana to continue to create jobs,
generate more foreign exchange and raise the standard of living
for its people.
Therefore, the strategy of the Government of Guyana is to
attract and support existing and potential Guyanese and foreign
investors to invest in the manufacture and provision of value-added
products and services for export.
This strategy has six components:
1.Improve the competitiveness of Guyanese businesses through
a new business culture that is collaborative and innovative.
2. The diversification of economic activities away from
primary production to value-added branded products and services
in traditional and non-traditional
3. The simultaneous and balanced encouragement of both domestic
and foreign investment including joint ventures
4. Consistent and expanded support for the growth of micro,
small, medium and large companies
5. The equitable distribution of economic activities across
6. The diversification of markets, including the maintenance
and expansion of share in current markets, and the development
of new markets
Investment procedures have been simplified for the obtaining
of licences to perform various business activities, and for
A new Investment Bill was passed by Parliament in 2004 where
the government guarantees the rights of investors to import
and export any product not prohibited by law, free from restriction
It provides legal protection for investments and the property
of investors. Investors can freely determine the distribution
of their profits, providing they satisfy their tax obligations.
Foreign investors and their foreign personnel can obtain
work permits. Investors are free to open bank accounts in
Guyanese currency or foreign currency.
Discretion in the granting of concessions has been eliminated
through the passage of the Fiscal Enactments Act of 2004.
A Procurement Bill has been passed by Parliament. Other legislation
includes a Competition and Fair Trading Act and an Anti-Money
The exchange rate has been stable for the past four years.
Inflation is relatively low and interest rates have been lowered
by 50 per cent since 1992.
The government has continued to limit the fiscal deficit
to a range that has enabled it to become a net depositor with
the banking system.
A stock exchange and a securities commission are operating.
There is non-discriminatory treatment of local and foreign
investment with respect to investment incentives and access
to the abundant land, minerals, water and other natural resources.
A non-resident of Guyana can acquire and dispose of assets,
moveable and immovable, in the same manner as a citizen of
Go-Invest is the primary contact for local and foreign investors.
The agency liaises, on their behalf, with government ministries
and other agencies in an efficient and effective manner.
Whether a company is a new business or an existing one planning
to expand, foreign or locally owned, there are considerable
incentive packages for a number of specific sectorsprocessed
foods (fisheries, poultry, beef and fruit juices); fresh and
organic foods; minerals, wood products, information and communications
technology, eco-tourism and handicraft, manufacturing, infrastructure
To get a list of incentives approved, a project simply has
to provide a brief proposal listing the owners, shareholders,
partners, products, markets, number of employees, the level
of investment and the sources of financing as set out in the
Go-Invest Investor Roadmap.
All the sectors are export-driven and have been identified
by the National Development Strategy as being areas where
Guyana has a comparative advantage that could be developed
into competitive advantages.
In addition, Guyana has special access to the Canadian,
American and European markets through the Caribcan, the Caribbean
Basin Initiative and the Cotonou Trade Agreements.
On taxation, investors and exporters can access export allowances
for non-traditional exports to markets outside of Caricom.
The government is taking to Parliament this year legislation
to implement a Value Added Tax System (Vat). There is unlimited
carryover of losses from previous years and an accelerated
depreciation on plant and equipment.
Guyana will become one of the major gateways for products
and services to move between northern Brazil and the rest
of the world.
In the short term there are investment opportunities in
electricity generation, the Berbice River Bridge, a new highway
from Georgetown to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport,
construction of roads, bridges and culverts, sea defences,
the privatised Ogle Municipal Airport near to the new Caricom
Headquarters, construction and engineering services for major
projects in the health, education, water and housing sectors
that total over US$400 million.
In the medium to long term, the most important investment
opportunities will be activities associated with the Guyana-Roraima
Integration Project that consists of the physical integration
of northern Brazil and the hinterland of Guyana into the regional
and global economies.
The industrial corridor that will be developed in an ecologically
and socially responsibly manner, will include the construction
and installation of the following: a heavy-duty cargo highway
linking Boa Vista and Manaus in northern Brazil to Georgetown,
a deep-water port on Guyanas Atlantic Coast, a hydroelectric
power plant in Guyana, electric power transmission lines to
Boa Vista and Georgetown, fibre optic cables and repeating
stations linking northern Brazil to the Americas II
submarine cable network.
Parallel to the development of the basic infrastructure,
there will be opportunities to create a number of productive
facilities in Guyana and northern Brazil.
Private investors from Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North
America, the Caribbean, Brazil and Guyana have shown keen
interest in investing in the industrial corridor to develop
soybean farms, meat and dairy centres, fish farms, alumina
plants, oil and gas facilities, ICT parks, gold and diamond
mines, organic farms and pharmaceutical plants based on Guyanas
Reasons to invest
The labour force is young, enthusiastic and easily trainable
The wage rates are the most affordable in Caricom
Guyana has state-of-the-art telecommunications with a direct
fibre-optic link to North America and Justice, democracy and
inclusive governance are being promoted by the governing and