Highlights

Ogle to Haags Bosch Road part of comprehensive masterplan for infrastructure transformation across Guyana-says Finance Minister

-as contract signed for Phase 1 of East Bank-East Coast Road Linkage Project from Ogle to Eccles

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, June 24, 2022: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today emphasized that the road linkage being formed to connect Guyana’s East Coast and East Bank corridors as well as the roads connecting Georgetown City to the country’s hinterland regions signal the commitment of the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C ) Government to countrywide road and infrastructure network development and Guyana’s rapid transformation. The Minister was at the time delivering the feature address at the contract-signing and sod- turning ceremony held today for Phase 1 of the new East Bank-East Coast Road linkage project (Ogle to Haags Bosch, Eccles). The Minister added that Government will be continuing to ensure that major road networks are upgraded while also ensuring that additional new roads and infrastructure are completed as part of President Irfaan Ali’s vision for the country.

“What you have in this People’s Progressive Party Civic Government, ably led by our President, is not only to plan and plan in a visionary manner, but an ability also to execute and deliver plans. I urge you to keep your eyes keenly focused on the agenda for transformation because you will see roads and bridges, hospitals and schools, industrial estates, you will see not only public investment, but private investment…..several private investors building internationally branded hotels, here and elsewhere adding thousands of rooms to our room-stock and creating thousands of jobs in the tourism industry,” Dr. Singh emphasized.

The Finance Minister told attendees as well that soon Government will be signing another major contract for the reconstruction of the current Soesdyke/Linden Highway for which a team from the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) are in Guyana on an Appraisal Mission to finalize discussion  on the reconstruction of this major thoroughfare. The highway links the Capital City Georgetown to Regions Seven, Eight and Ten and other riverain communities of the country.

Also speaking at the event was Minister of Public Works Bishop Juan Edghill who explained to attendees that the building of the Ogle to Haags Bosch four-lane roadway would see Government being able to open up new lands and when that happens there would be more lands for housing, agriculture, agro-processing, industrial development and for the oil and gas sector among other areas.

“You cannot transform and modernize a country without putting in road infrastructure,” Minister Edghill added as he also indicated to residents that as of Monday, June 27, Government will be removing all encumbrances close to public roadways including derelict vehicles.

While delivering his remarks, Indian High Commissioner to Guyana Dr. K. J. Srinivasa recalled that the project was envisaged over 7-8 years ago during the term of former President Donald Ramotar and when the current President, His Excellency Irfaan Ali served as Minister of Housing.

“As they say, better late than never,” the Indian High Commissioner posited as he noted that the road is expected to benefit the people of Guyana immensely.

“Friends as we see with our own eyes, the phenomenal transformation is unfolding in front of our own eyes,” High Commissioner Srinivasa emphasized while reminding attendees of the various projects in the past for which India assisted Guyana, including the National Stadium at Providence, East Bank Demerara, among others. He noted too that India, while continuing its own development in infrastructure, also recognizes this need in other countries such as Guyana.

Funding for the Phase 1 of the East Bank-East Coast Road Linkage Project (Ogle to Eccles) was garnered through a Line of Credit received by the Government of Guyana from the Export-Import Bank of India in an amount equivalent to Fifty Million United States Dollars (US$50,000,000) with the Civil Works contract awarded to Ashoka Buildcon Ltd. (Ashoka) totaling a sum of USD 106,377,380.77.

Works on the new road include construction of 7.8km of virgin road with an asphaltic concrete finish along the main road alignment consisting of four (4) lanes, each 3.6m wide and a median creating two traffic lanes in each direction. Concrete drains, sidewalks and a utility corridor will be constructed along the length of the roadway and several safety features will also be incorporated. In addition, construction works will also include a two (2) lane connector road at Eccles-Haags Bosch. This road will also be of asphaltic concrete while minor bridges and culverts will be constructed along the connector.

It was only in May last that Government signed a contract with a Brazilian construction contractor (Construtora Queiroz Galvao S.A) for the construction of the new Linden to Mabura road being funded by the Government of Guyana, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the United Kingdom at a total cost of $32.5 Billion.

In May 2022 as well, Government signed the single largest public infrastructure project undertaken in the history of the country for construction of a new US$261 million Demerara Harbour Bridge. Meanwhile a contract was also signed by Government for studies in connection with the bridging of the Corentyne river. Additionally, President Irfaan Ali earlier this year commissioned and opened a new four lane road leading from Mandela Avenue, Georgetown to Eccles on the East Bank of Demerara.

Also in attendance at the contract-signing ceremony were former President Donald Ramotar, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar and Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues.

‘MMs. Esther Rawlins was a consummate educator’-Senior Finance Minister says as he pays tribute to late Deputy Headmistress of Queen’s College

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, , June 9, 2022: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, today paid tribute to former Queen’s College Deputy Headmistress Miss Esther Cecelia Waveney Rawlins at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Brickdam and Camp Streets during a funeral service for the late French teacher. Ms. Rawlins retired from the College in 1989 as Graduate Deputy Headmistress and she was a teacher during the period that the Finance Minister attended the institution.

“Indeed after her retirement in 1989, Miss Rawlins a consummate teacher continued to teach hundreds for many, many years to come and indeed after the turn of the century. She literally shaped and molded the minds of the thousands of students who passed through her hands, “Dr. Singh related.

He added that he came to know Miss Rawlins when he joined Queen’s College in 1982 and she taught him French at CXC.

“She not only imparted language lessons. Miss Rawlins was not just a teacher of French grammar but she taught us lessons that would prepare us for life. She was an outstanding teacher and a caring and compassionate human being. The love that she extended to her nieces and nephews, I have to say to members of the family you may not have realized it but you were enjoying the care and passionate love that literally hundreds and thousands over successive generations also enjoyed. I would like to express deep appreciation to Teacher Rawlins and acknowledge the impact that she would have made on all of our lives. I express my most sincere condolences to her loved ones and thank them for sharing Teacher Rawlins with the nation,” he added.

The Finance Minister, on behalf of President Irfaan Ali’s administration, further recognized the contributions the teacher would have made over the years to the teaching profession, the country as a whole as well as the wider world.

Miss Rawlins was a dedicated teacher who began teaching in 1955 as an assistant teacher at Tutorial High School. She later joined Queen’s College in 1973 as a foreign language teacher prior to retiring in 1989 as Graduate Deputy Headmistress with a total of over 25 years of service in the profession.

 

IMF lauds Government on several initiatives taken to transform Guyana’s economy

-notes deteriorated economy in 2020 has ‘recovered well,’
-amendments made to NRF Act also lauded
– Govt commended for ‘good progress in strengthening Guyana’s anti-corruption framework and
fiscal transparency

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, June 3, 2022: In its preliminary findings published today, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lauded the Government of Guyana on many fronts for its policies implemented and initiatives taken to transform Guyana’s economy, which the institution said had ‘deteriorated’ in 2020 but has since ‘recovered well’. The findings were published following an official IMF mission visit to Guyana.

The IMF pointed out that its missions are ‘undertaken as part of regular (usually annual) consultations under Article IV of the IMF's Articles of Agreement, in the context of a request to use IMF resources (borrow from the IMF), as part of discussions of staff monitored programs, or as part of other staff monitoring of economic developments.

Guyana’s Economy has recovered well from the Global Pandemic and 2021 floods on account of sound policy action

The IMF in its findings said that the ‘Guyanese economy was negatively impacted by the pandemic, and 2021 floods, but has recovered well supported by the oil boom, and policy actions.

“Following the pandemic-induced recession and delayed political transition in 2020, economic growth recovered in 2021, with non-oil Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth reaching 4.6 percent. The war in Ukraine exacerbated inflationary pressures in 2022—due primarily to higher fuel and food prices—but the government implemented measures to mitigate the impact on vulnerable households and the economy. Even though the current account deficit widened significantly in 2021 in part reflecting increased capital imports, the foreign exchange (FX) reserve position improved, due to the new Special Drawing Rights (SDR) allocation”, the report noted.

It added that “After deteriorating markedly in 2020, the fiscal position remained appropriately supportive in 2021. In response to the pandemic, the authorities reallocated expenditures towards cash grants and transfers and ‘shovel ready’ public investment projects, primarily improving road networks and providing affordable housing, and eased the tax burden on the most vulnerable. Public debt stood at 42.9 percent of GDP at end-2021, one of the lowest in the region,” the institution said.

‘Guyana’s medium-term prospects are more favorable than ever before, with increasing oil production having the potential to transform Guyana’s economy’

While noting that oil production is expected to increase significantly, the IMF indicated that Guyana’s commercially recoverable petroleum reserves is estimated to be well over 11 billion barrels, the third largest in Latin America and Caribbean, and one of the highest levels of oil reserves per capita in the world.

“This could help Guyana build up substantial fiscal and external buffers to absorb shocks while addressing infrastructure gaps and human development needs. However, increased dependence on oil revenues will expose the economy to volatility in global oil prices. A slowing global economy and the repercussions from the war in Ukraine could also adversely affect non-oil exports. On the other hand, higher global oil prices and additional gas and oil discoveries could significantly improve Guyana’s long-term economic prospects,” the IMF added.

IMF supportive of Government’s goals to transform the economy, address development needs in an inclusive way, and protect the long-term economic well-being of Guyana:

The IMF highlighted in its report that it is strongly supportive of the authorities’ efforts to reduce electricity costs, improve transport infrastructure, diversify the economy, improve access to and quality of social services as well as advance more broadly towards the Sustainable Development Goals. As such, Guyana’s Government was commended for its ‘Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 to maintain the country’s forest coverage and address climate change challenges by shifting towards renewable energy sources, while entering the international carbon credits market’.

IMF lauds Government for amendments to the NRF Act:

The IMF went on further to laud the authorities (GOG) for the recent amendments to the Natural Resources Fund Act.

“The recent amendments to the 2019 Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act set clear ceilings on withdrawals from the Fund for budgetary spending and promote transparency in the management and use of oil resources. Staff praised the authorities’ thorough review of the 2019 NRF Act before making amendments, and the restraint in using any oil revenues before the passage of the amendments,” the report said.

IMF recommends feasible, moderate increase in public investment while further strengthening the medium-term framework for fiscal policy:

While the international financial institution praised the Government for several of its initiatives, it also recommended that it moves at a cautionary pace in ramping up public investment.

“While pressing development challenges still face the country, a large surge in public investment could add inflationary pressure, affect competitiveness of the non-oil economy, lead to an eventual loss in FX reserves, and might not be sustainable over the medium-term,” the IMF said as it urged Government to simultaneously strengthen the capacity to manage public investment, based on recommendations from the 2017 PIMA report. It also recommended that Government set annual budgets within a fiscal framework that, over the medium term, constrains the annual non-oil overall fiscal deficit (after grants) to not exceed the expected transfer from the NRF, to anchor fiscal policy in a sustainable way.

“This rule will also ensure that fiscal spending, including capital spending, is increased at a measured pace, to address development needs without macroeconomic imbalances,” the institution said while also recommending that further analysis of the oil transfer rules be done, to ensure the long-term sustainability of the NRF and intergenerational equity.

AML/CFT framework strengthened, IMF recommends further advances in this area:

Noting that Guyana has been removed from the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) and the European Commission’s Money-Laundering Blacklists, the IMF recommended that the AMF/CFT framework be further strengthened with mutual evaluation to be done once more by the end- of 2023.

“Similarly, the National Risk Assessment is completed, and the BoG is working on its recommendations with the requested support from the Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC)’, the Institution posited.

The IMF also agreed with Government that exchange rate stability serves Guyana’s needs best currently.

“The use of the exchange rate as the nominal anchor is currently appropriate, concurrent with increased efforts to diversify the non-oil economy and deepen the domestic financial markets. The accumulation of substantial buffers in the NRF will strengthen Guyana’s headroom to maintain a stable exchange rate,” it added.

The IMF said too that over the medium- to long-term, as Guyana becomes a major oil producer, the Government is supported in its aims to deepen financial markets and the institution recommended the revising of the monetary policy framework to ensure it is well suited for the economy’s needs, including allowing the exchange rate to absorb shocks and increase its flexibility to maintain competitiveness.

GOG commended by IMF for good progress in strengthening Guyana’s anti-corruption framework, fiscal transparency, supports further advances:

Pointing out that several pillars of the anticorruption framework have been recently strengthened, including the Integrity and Public Procurement Commissions (IC and PPC) and the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB), the IMF noted that ‘Audit reports of public expenditures, including for COVID 19, are published, and their recommendations are followed up on. It added that asset declarations of a large number of public officials are submitted annually, and public procurement tenders are streamed live’. The IMF also noted that Government made progress in implementing the recommendations of the 2019 and 2021 EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) reports, notably on the reconciliation with the fiscal regime.

“Some progress has also been made on information sharing and publication of extractive industries’ financial statements, and the authorities are strengthening capacity to address remaining gaps, including in moving towards electronic disclosure and adequate follow-up’, the institution observed.

The IMF concluded further that it is ready to assist Government in its capacity development needs. ”This includes technical assistance on macroeconomic and fiscal management, development of financial market infrastructure, and strengthening of statistical capabilities”, it said.

The IMF announced further that its Executive Board is expected to discuss Guyana’s Article IV consultation on August 31st, 2022.

Finance Minister says IsDB will continue to be a highly valued development partner

-elaborates on the ongoing developmental works in Guyana during his address at the Bank’s 2022 Annual Meeting

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, June 3, 2022: During his address at the 2022 Meeting of the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB), Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh while extending congratulations to the Bank on another successful year and greetings from His Excellency Dr. Irfaan Ali, the Government and people of Guyana, explained that due to the various challenges being faced by a number of countries, the work of the Bank is even more important to those countries in the months and years ahead.

“Excellencies, we meet at a time when the global economy is reeling from multiple intertwined shocks. First, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still being felt in many of our countries, with productive activity still muted in many places and the global supply chain still in deep dislocation. On top of this, war in Ukraine has further disrupted production and trade in key commodities, resulting in additional inflationary pressure. As a result, global economic growth is now projected to slow from 6.1 percent in 2021 to 3.6 percent in 2022 and 2023 and, beyond 2023 is projected to decline further to 3.3 percent into the medium term,“ the Finance Minister emphasized.

He added that inflation for 2022 is projected at 5.7 percent in advanced economies and 8.7 percent in emerging market and developing economies, and many countries are experiencing their highest levels of inflation in decades as he noted that the impact is being felt most severely by the vulnerable, both within and across countries.

Minister Singh pointed out that alongside the immediate crises, countries continue to face a global climate crisis of no less urgency, with gaping gaps between stated ambition and policy action which he reminded is a matter that will be the focus of attention in Sharm El Sheikh at COP27.

Alluding to the situation in Guyana, Minister Singh highlighted the work Government has been doing in the area of Climate Change.

“On the climate front, despite being a new oil producer, Guyana places the highest level of importance to our climate credentials. As a low low-lying coastal state, we are ourselves extremely susceptible to rising sea levels and flooding. At the same time, as a heavily forested country with low rates of deforestation, we are making an outsized contribution to the global fight against climate change. Our Low Carbon Development Strategy articulates these two intersecting realities, outlining a plan to ensure that the role of our standing forests in the global effort to flight climate change is recognised and remunerated, in order to enable us to make the required investments to achieve accelerated economic growth along a low carbon climate-friendly trajectory,” Dr. Singh explained.

He noted too that Government has taken a number of actions to limit the effects of COVID-19 on the lives of citizens and on the economy to contain ‘the passthrough of imported price pressure on the most vulnerable’ while also structuring these measures as far as possible to ensure they help stimulate productive activity in key areas such as agriculture. He concluded that as a result, despite the unhelpful external conditions, real growth of over 7 percent is projected in Guyana’s non-oil economy in 2022.

Dr. Singh explained further that in order to sustain strong non-oil growth into the medium and longer term, Government is putting in place the prerequisites for diversifying the productive sector, improving competitiveness, and increasing resilience including investing in adequate, reliable, affordable, and cleaner electricity which is essential for a competitive manufacturing sector, expanding and upgrading transport infrastructure, improving internal access; ramping up food production by bringing more acreage under cultivation and widening the range of crops grown as well as animals reared.

While concluding his presentation, the Senior Finance Minister posited that the Islamic Development Bank will continue to be a highly valued development partner for Guyana reminding that ‘we are already at an advanced stage of developing new projects for our portfolio with the Bank, including one in transport infrastructure that is due to go to the executive board in September’. He noted that other projects, mostly in advancing the infrastructure upgrade and build-out agenda, will follow later.

Among those in attendance at the Annual meeting being held in Sharm El Sheikh in the Arab Republic of Egypt were His Excellency Dr. Hala ElSaid, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank and His Excellency Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman AlJasser President of the IsDB. Minister Singh was accompanied at the meeting by Guyana’s Ambassador to Qatar, Safraaz Shadood.

The theme of this year’s meeting was ‘Beyond Recovery: Resilience and Sustainability’.

More relief for citizens……

-as Finance Minister successfully pilots Act to abolish Stamp Duty on retail transactions, adding to suite of Govt relief measures implemented

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, May 17, 2022: Revenue stamps being required to be placed on retail transaction receipts will soon be a thing of the past as Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh today successfully piloted the Tax Amendment Act, Bill Number 9 of 2022 in Parliament during the 47 th Sitting of the National Assembly at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. The amendment to the Act removes the requirement to charge stamp duties on receipts issued for retail transactions. The first reading of the Bill took place on April 13 and the second reading and passage by the National Assembly concluded today.

This measure being implemented forms part of the wide range of relief measures Government has implemented since its assumption to office on August 2, 2020 including the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on water, household necessities, educational and medical supplies. Further, measures were implemented to increase disposal income including distribution of $7.5 billion worth of COVID- 19 cash grants while $7.8 billion of flood relief was also distributed to persons most affected by the 2021 floods. Yesterday, four additional relief measures were announced by President Irfaan Ali namely:

1) a one off $25,000 cash grant to every household in riverain and hinterland communities placing an additional $800 million in the hands of these households facing hardship

2) a $1Billion purchase of fertilizer to be distributed free of cost to farmers to be used in planting and replanting activities in order to help cushion the rising cost of this key input

3) Home-construction facility which will see persons building their homes (whether privately or on Government allocated land) being assisted through the process to secure loans from financial institutions, choosing from options of model homes and construction and delivery of model homes at a cost of $7million, $9 million or $12million and 4) the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) from sheetrock and concrete board to aid in the country’s housing and construction drive.

Meanwhile, the Value-Added Tax (VAT)- Amendment of Schedule 1- Order 2022-No. 9 of 2022 was also circulated to members of the National Assembly today and this allowed for the removal of VAT from cement which was announced by the Minister of Finance. The recent removal of VAT from this commodity was also to allow for an ease in hardship to home owners and those in the construction industry in line with Government’s housing and construction policy.

Additionally, the Finance Minister notified the National Assembly (through Government Notice No. 1 of 2022 of the receipts of all petroleum revenues paid into the National Resource Fund (NRF) for the period January 1 to March 31, 2022. The provision of this information to the National Assembly is in keeping with the requirements of the NRF Act 2021 which came into operation on January 1, 2022.

Government committed to ensuring highly competitive, world class, diversified economy – says Finance Minister

-congratulates Commission on 30 th AGM

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, May 12, 2022: “My assurance to you today, on behalf of His Excellency the President is that you have in this Government, a Government that believes strongly, unshakably, unflinchingly and indeed, unapologetically the role of the Private Sector in the future of Guyana, and you have in this Government a partner committed to ensuring that a rapidly growing and a highly competitive, world class, diversified economy in Guyana.”

These were the words of Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh today as he delivered the feature address on behalf of President Irfaan Ali at the opening ceremony for the PSC’s Thirtieth Annual General Meeting (AGM) held at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston. The ceremony was attended by members of the business community, the Diplomatic Corps, members of the main Opposition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) and the Judiciary.

Minister Singh reiterated that Government sees the private sector as a highly valued and cherished partner in National development as he recognized the role of founding members of the Commission, some of whom were also present at the ceremony. The Minister also acknowledged the role of the PSC in the restoration of democracy in Guyana in 1992 and for their stance during the 2020 General Elections. On this note, Dr. Singh also expressed gratitude to the members of the Diplomatic Corps during that period of turmoil when they assisted in defending Guyana’s. democracy.

During his address to attendees, the Finance Minister reiterated the important role the private sector will play in the provision of jobs as well as in assisting in Government’s non-oil economic diversification policy (including in agriculture for food security across the Caribbean), to allow for a more resilient and stronger economy. He also disclosed that for the first time in 54 years, Guyana will once again be exporting manganese as was done in the past.

“Food security across the Caribbean presents a valuable business opportunity for Guyana…. we will see the level of emphasis being placed on non-oil extractive sectors such as gold and other minerals. I want to recognize the fact that this year, indeed this month and I believe this week Guyana will resume exports of manganese for the first time in 54 years. Right now, 16 vessels are being loaded in the North West of Guyana with Guyana’s first shipment of manganese in 54 years, and right multiple international companies are actively engaged at varying stages of development of world class large-scale gold mining operations in at least three very promising developments across Guyana,” the Senior Finance Minister said.

Meanwhile, Outgoing Chairman of the Private Sector Commission Paul Cheong said he was pleased to see that many of the measures proposed by the PSC during consultations on Budget 2022 were included in the Budget as he outlined several achievements of the PSC during his tenure as Chairman. He also welcomed the Women’s Chamber of Commerce as he noted that the PSC will be placing additional focus on the inclusion of more women in its fold.

Government makes first withdrawal from the Natural Resource Fund

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, May 10, 2022: Senior Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh announced today that Government has made its first draw down from the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) in accordance with the Natural Resource Fund (NRF) Act 2021.

The Minister indicated that pursuant to Section 16 of the NRF Act 2021, US$200 million equivalent to G$41.7 billion has been transferred from the Natural Resource Fund to the Consolidated Fund to finance national development priorities.

This transfer was made in accordance with the strengthened legal architecture of the NRF Act 2021 and follows the publication in the Official Gazette of all petroleum revenues paid into the Natural Resource Fund during the period 1 January to 31 March 2022. The NRF Act 2021 which came into operation on the 1 January 2022, represents a significant improvement in transparency and accountability and the overall management of the natural resoures wealth of Guyana for present and future generations.

It would be recalled, that as part of the Budget 2022 process, Parliamentary approval was granted for a total of US$607.6 million to be transferred during the fiscal year 2022.

Government removes VAT on Cement

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, April 29, 2022: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh has announced the removal of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Cement with effect from today April 29, 2022.

It would be recalled that Government had previously announced in Budget 2020, the removal of VAT on building and construction materials where VAT was imposed after 2014. At the time that this measure was implemented, Cement was not impacted because Cement had previously attracted VAT prior to 2015.

Government’s removal of VAT on Cement reflects recognition of the importance of Cement as a key input for the construction of residential dwellings as well as commercial buildings, and in line with Government’s vision for providing relief to citizens as well as to support the housing drive. This measure is expected to provide substantial support to the local economy.

Government would have previously also removed VAT from water, electricity, basic food items and household necessities.

Government’s expectation is that the removal of VAT from Cement will be passed on to final consumers through appropriate adjustments in the final price charged.

Finance Minister encourages businesses to deploy more digital solutions during Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural AGM

-Outlines some of Government’s plans to promote E-commerce

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, April 26, 2022: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, today, while applauding some businesses for already moving ahead with improving their E-Commerce services before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, further encouraged private sector entities to deploy solutions to allow for faster and easier service and E- Commerce business transactions. At the same time, the Minister outlined Government’s plans, some of which are already being enacted, in terms of response and solutions to the inefficiencies in the system. Dr. Singh was speaking at the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Guyana/Canada Chamber of Commerce which was held today at the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry’s (GBTI’s) Recreational Centre, Bel Air Park.

Emphasizing that the Chamber has an extremely important role to play in the economic and commercial landscape of Guyana, the Finance Minister reminded that there are already many Canadian companies with very well-established presence in Guyana as well as many Guyanese companies doing business with Canada and some located there. He reminded further that this point was reinforced most recently during the visit to Guyana by Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, Mary Ng during which a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between Guyana and the Canadian Commercial Cooperation that will facilitate discussions and exchange of information related to the procurement of Canadian goods and services. Dr. Singh pointed out that under this framework, it is expected that even greater opportunities for economic and commercial transactions will be realized. On this note, he congratulated the Chamber for all of their achievements since their formation in December 2020.

Minister Singh then outlined some of Government’s plans in E-commerce as he referenced President Ali’s consultative meeting recently at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre which focused on an Information Communications Technology (ICT) Masterplan for Guyana. He alluded to Government’s vision in the deployment of digital solution not only from the point of view of improving the public infrastructural space and not only from the standpoint of the deployment of digital solutions from an electronic Government perspective in terms of E-Government but also the use of digital solutions for the purposes of private sector commercial activity. Those, he stated, are all elements of any modern ICT Masterplan.

“One of the very first things that President Ali did when he assumed office was to bring into operation the new Telecommunications Act and that Act laid the foundation for the liberalization of the telecommunications sector and saw immediately thereafter, significantly ramped up interest by companies operating in the ICT space in introducing services which previously were largely in the domain of the legacy monopoly provided,” Dr. Singh reminded.

‘We’ve seen already, perhaps most prominently, the laying of redundant fibre optic cable and extension of fibre optic connectivity to places that were never served before,” the Minister added.

The Finance Minister pointed out that Government plans to ramp up and improve significantly, through E-commerce, the services provided by the public sector to allow for a service that would be as citizen-friendly as possible. He alluded to two of Government’s major plans of introducing a Single- Window process foe trade transactions as well as a Single window process for construction permits. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) has already commenced an aspect of the first process through the introduction of the Single Window Automated Processing System (SWAPS) and 2022 should see full implementation of the system. He urged the Private Sector to also take advantage of the ICT legislation and other legal provisions in order to further improve its services to the public as he commended those businesses which have already moved ahead in this direction.

The Canada-Guyana Chamber of Commerce has over the last year established a physical presence through the enrollment of over 50 business members and has organized numerous virtual and in person events to address pertinent issues of interest to members. It has also facilitated various investment opportunities and relationships between enterprises in both Guyana and Canada. The Chamber has signaled its intention to continue to strive towards improving bilateral economic relations in 2022.

 

Senior Finance Minister hosts roundtable with IDB-Invest, private sector at ACCC to discuss investment opportunities

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, April 4, 2022: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and officials from the Ministry of Finance today met with Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of IDB (Inter-American Development Bank) Invest James Scriven and team to examine the wide range of private sector opportunities in Guyana that the Bank can support. Later in the day, the Finance Minister hosted a Roundtable meeting with Representatives of the Private Sector and Mr. Scriven and team to discuss Guyana’s Development Agenda. IDB Invest is the private sector arm of the IDB. Its aim is to advance economic development and improve lives by encouraging growth of the private sector. Minister Singh was joined by Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill and Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal while the Private sector team was led by Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, Paul Cheong.

The Government of Guyana has been working aggressively (since its assumption to office in August (2020) to create the conditions for private sector-led growth with Government policies designed to create jobs and allow for income-generation. The meeting focused on the wide range of private sector opportunities for possible investment by the Bank such as an expansion of trade financing with Commercial Banks and providing support to micro enterprises. Additionally, discussions centred on various sectors poised for rapid expansion including oil and gas, agriculture and agro processing, tourism and Information Communications Technology (ICT) such as the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. It also allowed for an examination of available financing instruments, various mechanisms and modalities of accessing this financing and examples of how these mechanisms have worked in other countries. IDB- Invest offers an array of investment opportunities and provides its clients with customized financing solutions and expert advice, tailored to their specific industry and market.

The IDB-Invest was formerly known as the Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC). The entity partners with the private sector in Latin America and the Caribbean to finance projects to advance clean energy, modernize agriculture, strengthen transportation systems and expand access to financing. Financial solutions offered by IDB Invest include trade and supply chain finance, blended finance, guarantees, equity and loans.

On Monday last, during the 2022 annual meeting of the Boards of Governors of the IDB and IDB Invest, held virtually, Minister Singh lauded the commitment of the IDB Group to the continued support to the Caribbean sub-region. The Minister was speaking on behalf of the Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, the smallest member countries of the IDB Group.

Last week, the Senior Finance Minister hosted a similar roundtable discussion between the World Bank and the private sector led by Country Director for the Caribbean Lilia Burunciuc and new Resident Representative of the Bank Dilletta Doretti. That meeting served as an opportunity for dialogue on the Government’s economic objectives and priorities and potential opportunities for World Bank support through its assistance and lending programmes.