By Kemol King
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – Senior minister in the office of the president with responsibility for finance, Dr Ashni Singh, has urged Guyanese and Surinamese businesses to see the two countries as a shared economic space.
The minister expressed these sentiments on Thursday during the launch of the flagship store of the Surinamese company, Optiek Ninon, in Georgetown.
“Today’s occasion is symbolic because it demonstrates that which is possible. Suriname is the natural and obvious expansion of the Guyanese market.”
The minister said while Guyana and Suriname have been collaborating for many years, the potential for the two economies to function in oneness, has largely remained untapped.
Suriname’s minister of foreign affairs, international business and international cooperation, Albert Ramdin expressed similar sentiments.
“We are one market and we have to expand that market to create business opportunities, to create opportunities for growth.”
He explained that each country offers unique opportunities and capable people, and that the question now is how they mobilise those resources.
Dr Singh revealed that the countries’ presidents, His Excellency, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali and His Excellency, Chandrikapersad Santokhi have been exploring how they can achieve more effective integration of the shared economic space.
Minister Ramdin is in Guyana with president Santokhi and a delegation for an official four-day visit.
Private sector leaders of each country also met on Thursday in Georgetown to discuss collaborative measures. Discussions focused on oil and gas, low carbon strategies, and several other areas of mutual interest.
Optiek’s founder, Derrick Klaverweide, said the company’s entrance to the Guyanese market, though an adjustment, is good. “We have more in common than what differentiates us,” he noted.
Managing director of Optiek Ninon, Danielle Elkerbout, thanked the Guyanese community for welcoming the company. “We feel like home”, Elkerbout added, explaining that the company has had its eyes on Guyana for some time, after establishing seven stores in its home country; revealed that Optiek, in line with its corporate social responsibility, will be making a donation to the ‘Adopt an Orphanage’ initiative which was founded by Guyana’s First Lady, Arya Ali. Minister of housing and water, Collin Croal was also present at the ceremony.