Govt working to “have the most competitive non-oil economy” – Pres. Ali

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
An aerial view of the Kingston Seawall

President Dr Irfaan Ali lauded the “tremendous growth” of the private sector in Guyana while calling for more dynamism as the country continues a multifaceted approach in its upward trajectory.

During his address at the 32nd Annual General Meeting of the Private Sector Commission, at the Guyana Marriott Hotel, the Head of State highlighted the important role of the commission in the country’s overall development.

In a very frank and open speech, President Ali called for the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities available and continue to make the needed investments. He reminded that the private sector’s success is the Government and the country’s success.

He also called for a re-examination of corporate policies that are being matched with national policies, especially when it comes to understanding and complementing the Government’s drive.

“We want you to be successful. We want the private sector to be highly successful—we support private sector development.”

The commission members were reminded that the Government has no intentions of taking its foot off the accelerator by depending on oil alone, but is driven to “have the most vibrant, competitive and sustainable non-oil economy”.

The President said that among the Government’s focus is manufacturing industrial development, agro-processing, food production and value addition on minerals.

“The good thing is that we have the raw material and this is what we are focusing primarily on, building all this ecosystem, building out the incentive regime, opening up these opportunities.”

He also spoke of the correlation in the varying sectors, including sport and tourism, and stated that Guyana has turned the corner.

“We have positioning now. We are not Guyana five years or 10 years ago…we have a sense of presence. We have networking, we have influence. We don’t necessarily have to take a lot of pushing around now. Our success has created opportunities for us and the only way we can leverage fully the opportunity before us, is if we come together, if we build companies, consortiums that can go after regional and global opportunities.”

AGRICULTURE IS OUR FUTURE

Although the Government has a multifaceted approach to the country’s growth, its main focus will remain in agriculture.

President Ali called agriculture Guyana’s future and said that it is going to be a massive revenue earner for the country.

He told the commission that with the multiplicity of investments made in the agricultural sector by the Government, there are many opportunities available.

Due to the extraordinary work by the agriculture ministry and the private sector, Guyana is planting a lot more and is expected to “save by the end of next year, more than US$150m on imports”, which is what the country spends on importing onion, corn, soya, black eye, red beans and feed for livestock.

Within a few years, foreign direct investment (FDI) in the agricultural sector has risen by 14.7 per cent. President Ali explained that over the last year, overall FDI investments have climbed to over $7bn from $4.3bn.

Significant growth was also recorded in construction, transportation and communication, the mining sector, real estate and manufacturing.

Looking to future investments, the President stressed the need for a business model to facilitate expansion for value and rapid growth of businesses.

“We have to be able to create the wealth right here by building our capacity to make use of the opportunities. That’s all, that’s a very simple formula.”

The Government’s drive, he added, is to create a conducive environment for the overall growth and development of all Guyanese. To this extent, the Government is supporting large-scale investments and small-scale businesses.

He reminded of his visit to Bonasika Creek in the Essequibo River and the drive of the farmers to elevate their production and reminded that all levels of investments contribute to overall growth.

Moreover, the President also called on the financial institutions to be more supportive in their lending and work assiduously with persons to create new businesses.“The role of the bank is not to take deposits and to lend in a low-risk environment, the role of the bank is also to seek opportunities to understand where the economy is going, to create an ecosystem to support where the economy is going and to build upon what is happening in the country,” President Ali posited.

BRAND GUYANA

Guyana, he pointed out, is a unique brand, which can create a plethora of opportunities for the entire private sector.

“Brand Guyana matters. Brand Guyana is a recognised brand. It is a highly sought-after brand, a very high-value brand….”