The Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) oversaw $129.4 billion in investments between 2007 and 2010, according to Chairman Keith Burrowes, who says that the agency is working to help both foreign and local investors.
Burrowes noted that Go-Invest is an institution that is perceived to be only addressing the concerns of overseas companies. “I want to make it very clear that Go-Invest is open for Guyanese living here as well as abroad as well as any other person or institution that wants to invest,” he told Stabroek News.
Although Go-Invest was one of the beneficiaries of an IDB Com-petitiveness Programme, Burrowes said that it did not benefit as much as it could have from the financing for reasons he did not want to disclose. Burrowes said he is reviewing the situation with the acting CEO of Go-Invest Desmond Mohamed.
Mohamed took over after the departure of Geoffrey Da Silva one year ago. “I was Chairman of the Board for about four years and worked very closely with Da Silva and ensured that [the agency operated in the interest of investment],” Burrowes said. Da Silva was last year appointed Guyana’s new ambassador to Venezuela.
“We are on the verge of finalizing out annual report,” Burrowes said, when asked about Go-Invest’s financial statements. He, however, disclosed that between the years 2007 and 2010, local investors had the largest share of investments in Guyana, followed by Foreign Direct Investment and then joint ventures. He pointed out that between 2007 and 2010, the agency facilitated $129 billion worth of investments in agro-processing, energy, mining, light manufacturing, tourism, forestry and the growing information and communication technology sectors. He added that this was despite the effects faced by the global recession and increased liberalization and open market policies as a result of globalization. Burrowes stressed that in 2010 alone, traditional crops of rice and sugar had an investment which amounted to $776 million.
According to information from the agency, in 2007 Go-Invest facilitated projects for 83 foreign investors. By 2010, the number of foreign investors coming from countries such as China, India, and within the Caribbean had nearly doubled. The number of local investors has also grown significantly from just over 100 in 2007 to over 300 in 2010.
He noted that the magnitude of investments is reflective of the extensive efforts made by the government and increased involvement by the private sector to further enhance the investment climate.
According to Burrowes, the body has facilitated the development of the Lethem Commercial Zone, the construction of the Dadanawa Investment Port, the building of the Takutu River Bridge and Lethem Road, the expansion of the Ogle Airport allowing for increased hinterland flights, the development of the Hinterland Water Sector, the implementation of the Hinterland Electrification Programme, and the expansion of telecommunication services by GT&T and Digicel into rural and hinterland communities.
Burrowes said that because of the work of Go-Invest, Guyana is seeing an increased geographical spread of investments, and particularly towards inland locations. He said that in the past, investment has been concentrated mainly in regions 3, 4 and 5 along the Coastal Belt. He noted that Region 10 is recognized as a potential hub for trade and exploitation of Guyana’s immense natural wealth and that Region 9 is experiencing rapid growth.