Minister of State, Joseph Harmon yesterday met with a team of Brazilians who are interested in investing in the emerging oil and gas sector.
A release from the Ministry of the Presidency said that Yucatan Reis, Alexandre Saverin, Luis Panelli, John Forman, and José Mario de Castilho are the investors exploring areas of investment in the country’s emerging oil and gas sector. The meeting took place at the Minister of State’s office.
The release said that Harmon highlighted infrastructure as an area of investment that will catalyse Guyana’s development.
“It is a very important time in our development and in our history and so we really welcome the investments and the opportunities between Guyana and Brazil. These opportunities are now increasing on a daily basis… Our physical infrastructure is key because we cannot develop our country unless our physical infrastructure is organised. That means [that] our ports have to be modernised, our road network that links the coast to the hinterland will have to be modernised,” he said.
Harmon also said that strengthening the partnership between Brazil and Guyana will lift the quality of life for Guyanese. “In some countries a river is a border, but for us the rivers are bridges. We have built bridges over them and therefore we’ve connected our people in more ways than one. It is this connection which, I think, we need to develop. We need to improve on it so that we can provide a better quality of life for our people. Ultimately that is what our task is as a Government, to provide that good life to our people. We are stewards of the resources of our country and therefore it is our responsibility to ensure good stewardship of it, so that, not only this generation, but generations to come will be the better [from] the decisions which we make now,” he said.
The release said that Panelli cited the longstanding partnership between Guyana and Brazil as the main reason behind Brazil’s keen interest in investing. “It’s important for us to be here, not only for geo-political reasons, but because we’re neighbours… We are very interested in joining you in this effort to develop the [oil and gas] field here. It is going to be a very important thing for Guyana and for Brazil… We have the means… we have the personnel and we are very keen on [investing],” he said.
Saverin, who visited Guyana four years ago, noted the different business climate.
“You see the difference. You see the progress and you see the excitement in everybody’s eyes. I think we’re starting to see the change in the country where people are starting to open new businesses and taking new risks just with the idea of the oil that is coming… We’re excited to be here and we would love to proceed with [investment] in oil [and] in infrastructure,” he said.
Reis’s involvement in various sectors of the economy has raised eyebrows in the past.
Reis had been one of the principals of Muri Brasil Ventures Inc which had entered an agreement in 2012 with the PPP/C government for highly controversial mineral surveys of the New River Triangle in southern Guyana. Under the Permission for Geological and Geophysical Survey, the company had been granted the exclusive right to conduct surveys for rare earth elements, bauxite, limestone, nephelene, syenite, gold, diamonds and granite stones in South East Berbice for a period of 36 months from November 7, 2012.
After an outcry over the likelihood of prospecting licences being granted to the company in this sensitive area, the deal was scrapped. Reis had also attracted comment over his appearance on a PPP platform in Lethem prior to the 2011 general elections.
More recently, Reis has been linked to an agricultural venture in the intermediate savannahs where questions have been raised about his fulfilling commitments in relation to land use. Reis has not been available to Stabroek News to speak on these matters.