Any objective analysis of the performance of the Guyana Office for Investment (GO Invest) in its role as the principal facilitator for the creation of an enhanced business and investment climate for Guyana will probably conclude that it has fallen short of expectations. It has to be said, however, that such criticisms cannot, in fairness, be made in a vacuum and must take account of circumstances outside the control of the entity that might contribute to its underachievement. Such, unquestionably, has been the case in the instance of GO Invest.
At the outset it has to be said that the entity has never really been equipped with the human and material resources that even remotely corresponds with the magnitude of its assigned agenda. Repeated promises of strengthening GO Invest to enable it to measure up to its wide-ranging responsibilities have gone unfulfilled and this, incidentally, includes undertakings that have been given by the present administration in relation to the relocation and expansion of the Agency.
In the most recent public disclosure regarding both its performance and what it envisages for itself in the period ahead, the agency itself, in what is by far from a diplomatic way, concedes its weaknesses by pointing to what it says are efforts “to review the Agency’s current institutional and operational model in order to strengthen and improve its ability to promote exports and attract investments.” What is made clear in its statement is that GO Invest sees more challenging times ahead for itself in an investment climate driven by an ‘oil and gas’ economy and the preceding pronouncement is its own way of saying to government that it does not consider itself to be quite up to the task as presently resourced.
The problem is that the government has, in the past, ignored such appeals and it is, in our view, for GO Invest as well as the local Business Support Organizations (BSO’s), that will themselves require the services of GO Invest in the period ahead to insist that if the agency is to properly play its role as an investment facilitator then it must be suitably equipped to do so. The reality is – and we are already aware of this – that if GO Invest cannot measure up to the demands of the anticipated infusion of investments in the period ahead then oil or no oil, we are likely to feel the effects of a deficit of investor confidence.
One sometimes feels as well, that given the role that it has to play GO Invest has to receive the support of other state agencies and initiatives and at this point one is far from sure as to whether or not that is indeed the case. We see, for example, a critical nexus between the role that GO Invest has to play and the role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for example, from the standpoint of it being a key cog in the wheel of economic diplomacy. The most that can be said in this editorial in this regard is that it would be comforting to secure hard evidence that insofar as creating linkages between potential overseas investors and GO Invest is concerned, our missions overseas and the country’s principal investment support agency are working together.
GO Invest itself, given the particular nature of its responsibilities, should be expected to assume a more high-profile posture. If it has to be said that this newspaper’s relationship with the Ministry of Business is one of the more worthwhile ones in terms of our relationships with state agencies concerned with business and the economy, it also has to be said that it remains a challenge to secure a persistently free and helpful flow of inflow of information as far as news on GO Invest and its work is concerned.
As is evidenced in the content of its most recent media release, information is frequently generated out of the work of GO Invest that not only belongs in the public domain but is critical to impacting on the public mood insofar as issues like investor interest and things like potential job-creation are concerned. Sometimes, frankly, one is hard-pressed to see the rationale behind what often appears to be a deliberate effort to render information inaccessible.
While the issue of media engagements and high officials is a matter of public discourse it is perhaps timely to make the point that it would do both GO Invest and the Guyanese public a power of good if information such as is reflected in the recent media release is placed in the public domain far more frequently. This is simply another way of saying that the importance of the role of the agency requires that it establish a far greater measure of intimacy with the nation.