The Guyana Office for Investment (GO-Invest) facilitated approximately $89.4 billion in investments last year and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Owen Verwey yesterday said there have been no negative indications from businesses and investors stemming from the recent political developments.
At a press conference at Duke Lodge in Kingston, Verwey noted that of the $89.4 billion in facilitated investments, $52.2 billion was generated from 56 executed investments (all signed investments) across all sectors and platforms in the country.
He said based on year-end performance indicators derived from investors’ figures, the investments are expected to create 1,644 jobs when the respective projects are fully operational and the new jobs and associated training opportunities will increase the country’s human resource capabilities across sectors, including agriculture, services and manufacturing, and information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
The overall investment figure, however, falls short of the $107.5 billion that Verwey had projected last year. He said the shortfall was as a result of slow developments in the services sector but pointed out that an increase in activity has since been recorded.
When questioned by Stabroek News whether the passage of the no-confidence motion against government on December 21st, 2018, would’ve affected the investment climate, he said no and further explained that given that the developments occurred during the ending of the year, it was too late to affect anything that they would’ve been doing.
He was asked whether it was expected to affect developments this year and he said it was difficult to answer but that they have not received any negative indications from businesses and investors. “The Guyana environment for oil and gas is so robust that everyone would want to be here,” he said.
As it relates to the 56 executed investments, Verwey noted that 38 were local, while 15 were Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and three were joint ventures. The FDI agreements were mostly within the agriculture, services and manufacturing, and the ICT sectors. Verwey said based on the investors’ projections, the value of the FDI projects totalled $11.3 billion, while the value of the joint ventures totalled $2.3 billion.
“Among FDI projects were the manufacturing of pre-cast concrete construction materials, coco peat from coconut shells, ventures in transhipment and aviation as well as [in the] business process outsourcing services sector,” he said.
The executed joint venture agreements, he added, were in the energy, tourism and manufacturing sectors.
Local investments accounted for $38.5 billion, Verwey said, and they were primarily in agriculture and the energy and light manufacturing sectors. They are expected to create at least 1,056 jobs when fully operational.
Verwey also noted that GO-Invest has also made substantial progress in promoting the country’s exports to international markets last year and was able to match 56 local businesses with overseas clients to facilitate the trade in the supply of gold, diamonds, coffee, coconut oil, heart-of-palm, pepper, fruit-pulp, dressed lumber, noodles, beverages and clay bricks, among other products.
“To complement these activities, GO-Invest completed a robust programme of inward and outward missions that year to explore mutually beneficial investment opportunities and implement trade-related activities aimed at obtaining new markets and increasing exports,” he said.
As a result, 36 Guyanese entrepreneurs in the agro-processing and mining sectors attained direct access to selected export markets that are offering “the best sales opportunities” for their products and services.
He noted that the missions resulted in significant gains for both large and small-scale enterprises with new markets secured for ventures of all sizes, including rice and other food, and from beverages to scented candles.
“Overall, the agency facilitated the improvement of local exporters’ marketing, networking and monitoring tools and capabilities. This involved the creation of synergistic business links, allowing local exporters to collaborate easily and securely with their international clients and build capacity in vital aspects of business, such as improving product design and quality and enhancing productivity,” Verwey explained.
He also said inward missions that were facilitated by the agency were from Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Canada, Brazil, China, French Guiana and Aruba and also included privately-organised missions. There were also outward missions to the Caribbean, Latin America, China, Cuba, North America and others, especially to promote forestry, food products and large scale agriculture.
“The success of the agency’s activities in 2018 was heavily based on a commitment to responsible management of funds in order to get maximum mileage from Current and Capital Subventions amounting to $218,750,000. Strategic participation in trade and investment events in several nations and other key activities were based on best-value considerations,” he said.