By Isaiah Braithwaite
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – The government has laid out an array of areas for investment in Guyana’s non-oil sectors to the delegation of high-level public, and private sector officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Infrastructure, healthcare, tourism, agriculture, housing, renewable energy and education were some of the areas highlighted by senior minister in the office of the president with responsibility for finance, Dr Ashni Singh at the opening of the Guyana-Saudi Arabia Investment Engagement at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre on Saturday.
Minister Singh said since taking office, the PPP/C administration led by president, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali has sought to advance the relationship between the two countries which began on February 22, 2012. He said engagements like the Investment forum provides important opportunities for Guyana to deepen and strengthen its relationship with Saudi Arabia.
The delegates who are being led by deputy minister for investors outreach, Badr Al Badr were informed that Guyana is projected to be the fastest-growing economy in the world, largely due to its oil and gas sector.
Guyana, minister Singh said produces about 350,000 barrels of oil per day with a reserve that is the third-largest in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the 17th largest in the world. Nevertheless, the Finance Minister said that Guyana has a heavy focus on developing a strong diverse economic base by investing in its non-oil sectors.
“Our government, even in our earliest days of oil production, we have placed the highest level of importance on a strong non-oil economy. Our policies are focused on developing the traditional pillars of our economy and catalysing a rapidly growing, and highly competitive non-oil economy.
“This is evident with Guyana’s non-oil growth projected at 7.7 percent this year, building on the 4.6 per cent growth recorded last year, and over the medium- term, non-oil growth is expected to outperform regional and global averages,” the finance minister said.
Senior minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr Ashni Singh addressing the Guyana – Saudi Arabia Investment Engagement
Led by president Ali, Dr Singh noted that the government has laid out a master plan for the development of the country.
In the area of energy, the delegates were enlightened about government’s ambitious plans for an energy mix that will not only reduce the cost of electricity by 50 percent, but also energy emissions as Guyana plays its role in protecting the environment.
Investments in the area of infrastructure include the construction of a high-span bridge across the Demerara River, a bridge across the Corentyne River linking Suriname and Guyana, and the commencement of the first phase of the road that links Guyana and Brazil.
Opportunities, Dr Singh said, are also available in the housing sector, as government intends to develop Silica City, a smart city, along with delivering 10,000 house lots to Guyanese per year.
There is also tremendous potential in the area of tourism as Guyana has untapped potential with its eco-tourism product. The visiting delegation was given a glimpse of what Guyana has to offer by way of the mighty Kaieteur Falls, and were encouraged to visit and see its potential.
Government’s investment in agriculture is unprecedented as the aim is to become the breadbasket of the Caribbean. The minister also said it falls in line with the vision of CARICOM to reduce its food import bill by 25 percent by 2025. He pointed out that while Guyana is ramping up its traditional agricultural sectors, investments are being made in areas such as aquaculture, and corn and soya production.