GO-Invest and the Brazilian investment team

It made for encouraging news that the GO-Invest Chief Executive Officer Owen Verwey met with a sizeable group of Brazilians, potential investors we are told, at the Brazilian Cultural Centre earlier this week “to explore investment opportunities” in Guyana’s economy.

That is just the kind of exposure the agency needs, given what, up to this time, remains the strict limits that appear to have been placed on information emanating therefrom.

What was perhaps less encouraging is that the post-meeting briefing with Mr Verwey apparently took account only of the Government Information Agency (GINA) in circumstances where one feels that there is absolutely no good reason why the rest of the media houses could not have been invited.

It raises the question as to whether there might not be a deliberate measure in place to shield GO-Invest from the public eye in circumstances where, by the Ministry of Business’s own admission, the agency is nowhere near as well equipped as it ought to be to execute the weighty functions that have been assigned to it including investment facilitation and providing support for the promotion of locally produced goods on the international market.

This newspaper was the recipient of what may well have been the first interview given by Mr Verwey after he assumed the position of CEO at GO-Invest. Nowhere during the course of that interview did we detect an absence of competence on his part in the matter of propagating the mission of GO-Invest. Some months later, however, after we had requested and received confirmation of a second interview with Mr Verwaye, we received notification from the Ministry of Business that the interview had to be postponed because other things had come up. That was the day before we were scheduled to meet with Mr Verwaye. We have heard nothing since then about the likelihood of a second interview with the GO-Invest CEO.

One understands, of course, that GINA has its role to play in promoting GO-Invest as the country’s principal investment promotion industry. So, incidentally, does this newspaper, except that the concerns that guide our line of inquiry might not necessarily always coincide with those of a state-run news agency. For the record, we remain keenly interested in meeting with Mr Verwey again, particularly in the light of the recent revelations by the Ministry of Business regarding the shortage of skills at GO-Invest and such proposals as are in place to secure those skills.

With regard to the visiting Brazilian delegation it was good to hear from Mr Verwey that feedback from the visitors suggest that investments can be expected from Brazil. It is high time, particularly given the fact that, first, Brazil is our neighbour and a resource-rich and industrialized country and second, over the years, we have declined to take really meaningful advantage of the numerous opportunities that have arisen for bilateral cooperation in fields like manufacturing, labelling and packaging, agro processing and agriculture. What we now hear about the likely interest of the Brazilians in areas such as oil and gas, tourism, mining, agro-processing and forestry is nothing new, though it has to be said that we have failed, over the years, to initiate a sustained regime of bilateral cooperation in areas that can advance Guyana’s economic interests. Nor, incidentally, was this the first group of would-be Brazilian investors who have come and left.

The media report regarding the recent engagement between Mr Verwey and the Brazilian delegation provides us with at least a soft signal that the state agency that is at the very heart of investment promotion is open for business. The public dissemination of the work of GO-Invest, however, should not be driven exclusively through the PR-oriented efforts of the state news agency. It is far too important to the country as a whole to be treated in that manner. Again, for the record, this newspaper stands ready to engage GO-Invest again, at its convenience.

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