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Finance Minister Meets Mubadala – UAE Sovereign Investment Vehicle – as Guyana’s participation in Dubai World Expo Continues

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 20, 2021: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh and a group of Guyanese private sector representatives met earlier today with Mubadala, the sovereign wealth investment company within the United Arab Emirates. The Mubadala delegation was led by Mr. Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Chief Executive Officer of UAE Investments. The meeting took place at Mubadala’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi, on the margins of Guyana’s participation in World Expo 2020 currently being held in Dubai, at which Guyana’s delegation is led by His Excellency the President Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali.

During the meeting with Mubadala, Minister Singh and the Guyanese delegation reiterated the rapid economic transformation that is currently underway in Guyana, and highlighted a number of sectors that are poised for immediate growth and that are therefore ripe with investment opportunities. These include: the oil and gas sector which is poised to exceed one million barrels a day before the end of the decade; non-oil extractives such as gold, bauxite, manganese, and other minerals, with a number of international large scale operations already set to ramp up their production plans in the near term; tourism and hospitality including new and emerging sub-sectors such as the development of cruise ship facilities as well as yachting marinas; world class medical and educational facilities, including to provide medical care and education as services for export; as well as information and communications technology and others. Minister Singh also alluded to the several characteristics that make Guyana one of the most rapidly growing economies of the world and one of the most attractive destinations for investment globally under the leadership of President Irfaan Ali.

The Mubadala team welcomed the information shared by Minister Singh and the delegation on the Guyanese economy and associated investment opportunities in Guyana, sought various clarifications which were addressed by the Guyanese team, and signaled interest in advancing discussions in a number of specific areas. The two sides committed to advance these discussions as appropriate.

Mubadala is a $243 billion (UAE Dirhams 894 billion) business that spans six continents with interests across multiple sectors and asset classes. Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, Mubadala also has offices in London, Rio de Janeiro, Moscow, New York, San Francisco and Beijing. The UAE Investments platform within Mubadala contributes to the acceleration of the UAE’s economic transformation, and investing in national world class champions, fostering vibrant industrial and commercial clusters, and partnering with world-class global entities.

The Guyanese delegation’s participation in Dubai Expo continued during today and will continue tomorrow with a number of engagements set between the Guyanese representatives and representatives of both UAE Government agencies as well as private sector entities all with the aim of fostering closer economic ties and promoting accelerated economic growth.

Urgent action needed to contain effects of pandemic -says Senior Finance Minister – during attendance at 2021 high-level Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors of the IMF, WB

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 12, 2021: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today indicated that Latin American and Caribbean countries need to act with urgency in the recovery process. The Minister served as a panelist on a virtual high-level meeting titled “The Road to Recovery in Latin America and the Caribbean”. This was convened as part of the 2021 Annual Meetings of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB).

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is the region hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and thus, the meeting featured an exchange between high-level policy makers across countries and sectors including Ministers of Finance, Planning, Labour, Health and Education, to discuss progress towards closely interrelated objectives by policymakers that focus on supporting the region’s pandemic recovery. These objectives include: strengthening LAC’s public health response to creating the necessary space for economic reactivation, minimizing the long-term scarring by the crisis on human capital development, and supporting job creation, particularly for those impacted by the crisis.

During his presentation, Minister Singh indicated that even as Latin American countries battle the various challenges, first and foremost is ensuring that people are protected.

“First, we must do all we can to keep our people alive, safe, and well. This necessitates ensuring: adequate capacity in the health care system; access by the entire population to food, potable water, and sanitation, especially given the ongoing threat to livelihood faced by the most vulnerable; and access to vaccines given the scientific evidence on vaccine efficacy. In Guyana, for example, we have pursued an aggressive vaccination campaign, achieving to date first dose coverage of 71 percent and second dose coverage of 42 of the adult population, and amongst the adolescent population, 35 percent first dose coverage and 20 percent second dose coverage,” Minister Singh emphasized.

The Minister said affected countries need to act with urgency especially in terms of their approach to minimizing the damage to their economies and getting their countries back on track to the path of recovery.

“Second, we must contain damage to the economy. This will likely involve a phased reopening of the economy without compromising the safety of our people. It might also involve some measure of support to help ensure that the private sector can navigate the crisis and survive financially. In Guyana, we rolled out a universal cash transfer programme delivering COVID-19 cash grants to every household across the country. This injected essential liquidity into the household sector and by extension helped to kickstart a resumption of economic activity,” he said.

With Guyana’s 2021 Mid-Year report indicating a 14. 5 percent economic growth with a 4.8 percent growth in the non-oil economy, the Senior Finance Minister concluded that LAC countries can address the challenges to their economies by addressing the critical impediments to their growth.

“Third, we must lay the foundation for full recovery and sustained economic growth in the medium and longer term, by addressing and alleviating the most critical prevailing impediments to growth. In many countries, these will include catalytic infrastructure, human capital development, technological advances, and the business environment. In Guyana, we are focusing heavily on addressing all aspects of this agenda, with a view to ensuring a well-diversified and resilient economy going forward, “Minister Singh concluded.

In Guyana, in addition to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the country experienced devastating flooding in several Regions in May-June last which resulted in the flooding of several agricultural lands, further impacting the performance of some of the sectors in the non-oil economy. Government has been working assiduously on the path to recovery providing support to the household and productive sectors. Looking ahead, it is anticipated that the revised full-year forecast for real GDP growth in Guyana in 2021 would be 19.5 percent overall and 3.7 percent for the non-oil economy.

Government Announces Further Cut in Excise Tax on Fuel – Prices at Pump expected to reduce

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 6, 2021: Senior Minister in the Office of the President with Responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, today announced that Government will be further reducing the excise tax on gasoline and diesel to ease the domestic impact of the continuous rise in the world market price for fuel.

It could be recalled that on February 17 of this year, the Government reduced the Excise Tax rate on both gasoline and diesel from 50 percent to 35 percent. Since this time, oil prices have continued to rise steadily on the world market, moving from over US$60 a barrel to over US$80 a barrel at close of trade on October 5, 2021. This steady rise in the world price has had a resultant effect with prices rising on the domestic market also.

Minister Singh announced today that the Government will be lowering the excise tax rate on both gasoline and diesel from 35 percent to 20 percent with immediate effect. This reduction will aid in cushioning the impact on domestic consumers, particularly the travelling public as well as those productive sectors for whom fuel is an important input.

The prices at the pump are expected to also be reduced with immediate effect, with gasoline prices expected to reduce from $213 per litre to $198 per litre, and diesel prices from $200 per litre to $185 per litre.

Minister Singh explained that the adjustment in the excise tax rate on fuel from time to time is part of the measures that the PPP/C Government will implement to cushion the domestic impact of world market price fluctuation. He emphasized that implementation of these measures are in keeping with President Irfaan Ali’s commitment to ensuring that Guyanese consumers continue to be protected from escalation in fuel prices on the world market as far as possible.

Guyana’s economy grew by 14.5 percent in first half of 2021, non-oil economy by 4.8 percent, despite COVID-19 and May/June Floods

2021 Mid-Year Report reveals

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, October 5, 2021: The Ministry of Finance’s Mid-Year Report for 2021 has indicated that Guyana recorded real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 14.5 percent while non-oil GDP grew by 4.8 percent, despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and even the devastating floods experienced in May-June.

Due to the unprecedented floods which impacted particularly the agriculture, forestry and mining sectors, along with the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of which will spill over into the last half of the year and even beyond, the revised full-year forecast for real GDP growth in 2021 is now 19.5 percent overall and 3.7 percent for the non-oil economy.

The Mid-Year Report is expected to be tabled by Senior Minister of Finance Dr. Ashni Singh at the first sitting of the National Assembly once the Assembly resumes after its current recess.

Sector Performance

With regard to sector performance, the agriculture, forestry and fishing industries for the first half of 2021 are estimated to have contracted by 2.4 percent compared with a decline of 4.1 percent for the corresponding period last year and it was noted that this was as a result of lower output from the other crops, sugar growing, forestry and fishing industries.

“At the end of the first half of the year, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) produced 29,650 tonnes of sugar. This performance reflects the record high levels of rainfall, which resulted in waterlogged soils, particularly at the Albion Estate, and strike action that resulted in over 5,600 man-days being lost,” the Mid-Year Report indicated. As such, it was emphasized that the sugar industry declined by 22.4 percent when compared to the same period in 2020. Some of the reasons indicated were a 30 percent mortality of mature cane at Albion estate, 10 percent at Uitvlugt and 5 percent at Blairmont due to the floods. Another 15,000 tonnes of sugar in the second crop were also expected to be lost, based on the Report.

Meanwhile, the Report noted that the rice industry grew by an estimated 7.8 percent in the first half of the year, marginally lower than the target set for the period, ‘other crops’ declined by 7.3 percent due to the floods and the livestock industry was estimated to have grown by 10.6 percent when compared to the same period in 2020. However, for that same period, the fishing industry contracted by an estimated 6.6 percent and the forestry industry by 7.1 percent.

Referencing the extractive industries, the Report indicated that in the first half of 2021 the mining and quarrying industries were estimated to have grown by 23.1 percent, with higher output from the petroleum and other mining industries despite contractions in gold and bauxite.

It was noted that total output from the petroleum sector increased by 65.4 percent when compared to the same period last year. With respect to diamond, sand and stone, these were estimated to have seen a total growth of 63.3 percent with quarry stone having a growth output of 141 percent, sand declarations growing by 119.3 percent as a result of increased activity in the construction sector while diamond declarations improved with a growth of 166.3 percent. The outlook for the remainder of this year for other mining industries was estimated to be promising as well with an estimated growth rate of 74.5 percent for the entire year.

With regard to manufacturing, this sector notably saw an estimated growth of 13.1 percent when compared to the same period last year with expansion of the sector being attributed to a growth of 23.1 percent in other manufacturing. In the category of other manufacturing, growth was experienced in the manufacturing of non-metallic products, chemical products and beverages.

Meanwhile, the services industries were estimated to have expanded in the first half of 2021 by 9.4 percent when compared to the same period in 2020 as it was noted that the measures to curtail the impact of COVID-19 would have severely impacted such activities last year. Notably, the Report indicates that the gradual relaxation of these measures would have contributed to some growth in the sector.

The Report also noted the strong performance of the construction sector which grew by 25.5 percent in the first half of 2021, reflecting increased emphasis on implementing the public sector investment programme as well as increased private sector construction reflecting improved private sector confidence and optimism regarding the economic outlook.

Balance of Payments – Larger Merchandise Trade Surplus

The Mid-Year Report noted that at the end of the first half of this year, ‘the overall balance of payments recorded a deficit of US$67.4 million compared with a deficit of US$2.8 million at the end of June 2020’ with the current account registering a deficit of US$39.1 million in comparison to a deficit of US$396.5 million for the corresponding period in 2020. This was attributed to a ‘significant increase in the merchandise trade surplus which moved from US$72.7 million, to US$813.3 million. The merchandise trade account, according to the Report, improved as a result of export receipts expanding by US$786.9 million, outweighing the US$46.2 million increase in imports.

Meanwhile, the capital account showed a deficit of US$19.6 million when compared with a surplus of US$419.7 million at the end of June 2020, attributed to ‘outflows of US$1,713 million from private enterprises in the oil and gas sector along with outflows of US$123.6 million in revenue from the petroleum sector to the Natural Resource Fund’. The Report also highlighted the fact that foreign direct investment in the first half of 2021 was 41.6 percent higher than the US$940.6 million recorded last year for the same period.

Inflation

At the end of the first half of 2021, consumer prices grew by 5.6 percent. This was largely driven by increased food prices, as a result of the inclement weather and shortages experienced following the flood. Further, the Report indicated that the bottlenecks in the global supply chain adds some measure of imported inflationary pressures. However, the Report underscores, that the price increases are ‘transitory’ and are unlikely to have lasting long-term impact on inflation’. Inflation is now projected to be in the order of 3.8 percent for the full year.

One of the Fastest Growing Economies

Earlier this year Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh had indicated that Guyana would be one of the fastest growing economies in terms of real GDP and would see rapid transformation in a number of sectors especially since Government would make efforts to boost the non-oil economy as well.

“We’re anticipating a rapid expansion in the services sector, including transport and logistics, construction of infrastructure including roads, bridges, office buildings in the private sector, etc, along with expansion in other services such as financial services, all of which will contribute to rapid expansion in real output. So, you’re going to see Guyana being one of the fastest growing economies in real GDP terms…. globally in the hemisphere and certainly in the Caribbean… a lot of the real GDP growth in the region will be driven by Guyana,” he had emphasized.

The favorable economic performance at the end of the first half of 2021 in the non-oil economy bodes well for the upcoming second half of 2021 and beyond. It is expected that advances in key investments, both in the public and the private sector, will buttress the second half performance of the economy.

 

 

250 jobs for Linden as Government inks MOU with Midas BPO to re-establish Call-Centre

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, September 24, 2021: As Government continues in its efforts to ensure that employment is increased throughout the country, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today participated in a ceremony in Linden, Region Ten which saw a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) being signed between the Guyana Office for Investment (Go-Invest) and Midas Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Inc. for the expansion of the BPO to the Mining Town.

With the expansion of the business to that Region, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Midas, Malcolm Sobers explained that 50 to 75 persons would be recruited by October 1 while by year- end that number would increase to 150, then further moved to 250 by June 2022. He noted that the company would commence the recruitment process for employees from within the town immediately after the signing ceremony. In fact, it was observed that a large number of young persons had already gathered outside the building enthusiastically waiting with applications in hand.

The Guyanese businessman said he was also ecstatic that he was able to expand to Linden to assist in creating jobs and expressed his intention to have his business expand to other Regions. He further expressed his appreciation to especially the Senior Finance Minister and Go-Invest’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Peter Ramsaroop as he explained that the officials were quick to respond to his business- expansion need and showed serious commitment to the BPO industry. Sobers recalled that 17 years ago he attempted to commence his own operations in Guyana but was unsuccessful while four years ago, when he made another attempt, no one responded to his expressed interest. He concluded that it was a dream realized for him to see his business grow in the manner it has.

During his remarks prior to the signing, Minister Singh said that Sobers’ success story is one which could be emulated by each new employee who came to work at Midas. He emphasized that Sobers’ journey as a young Call-Centre agent who moved up to higher positions in the BPO industry within twenty years, to now being a proprietor, is a success story for many young persons who may be considering the industry as a serious one for career-advancement.

Dr. Singh then alluded to the People’s Progressive Party/ Civic’s (PPP/C’s) commitment to Information Communications Technology (ICT) and recalled that the focus on this started since under former President Jagdeo’s tenure.

“I had the privilege of being associated with the early efforts to bring the sector to Guyana. In those days the President of Guyana was President Jagdeo who saw the remarkable potential of technology-based industries to transform the economic landscape of Guyana and who saw the remarkable potential of technology-based solutions to creating jobs in Guyana, and President Jagdeo at the time very enthusiastically and aggressively promoted Information Communications Technology,” the Minister reminded.

“Today the fruits of those efforts are now being harvested under President Irfaan Ali’s tenure,” he added.

Quoting from the PPP/C’s 2020 manifesto, Minister Singh said the event symbolized Government’s promise to Guyanese of using “ICT as an enabler for jobs-creation” and he repeated the portion of the manifesto to attendees which states, “The ICT sector, if properly incentivized, can generate thousands of new jobs through co-investment, providing infrastructure support, state-sponsored training, and employment opportunities for the disabled.”

Minister Singh then highlighted the several other steps being taken by the PPP/C Government to promote the development of the ICT sector in Guyana, including the liberalization of the telecommunications sector and investment in ICT education.

Also speaking at the event was PPP/C’s representative for Region Ten, Minister of Public Works, Bishop Juan Edghill who said that Government is serious about its commitment to the Region and will continue to prove this through its efforts to catapult development in not only ICT and job- creation, but also in infrastructure, housing and social services, as he alluded to the works currently being done on the Linden-Mabura Road and housing for young professionals.

“This is not a stand-alone activity that we are celebrating. This is part of a suite of measures that are being made to bring real development to Linden and Region Ten,” Minister Edghill reiterated.

It was only last month that the Senior Finance Minister visited Midas’ Headquarters located in New Market Street, Georgetown, where he lauded the efforts of Mr. Sobers on pursuing his vision, which had materialized into the successful BPO facility that only commenced operations in August 2020 but has since allowed for the employment of 330 Guyanese. The businessman had noted then that his business was heading towards expansion in Guyana. The event was proof that he meant business.

Senior Finance Minister encourages BPOs to expand to other Regions -during visit to Teleperformance

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, September 20, 2021: As Government continues to strive towards ensuring the economy is diversified by creating an enabling environment to attract investment in a number of sectors, Senior Finance Minister, Dr. Ashni Singh visited and toured ‘Teleperformance’ Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) facility on Camp Street where he met with its Chief Executive Officer, Luis Barreto. There, the Minister, CEO and other officials of the company discussed the company’s plans for expansion as well as ways in which Government can lend its support to allow for this. The Minister was accompanied by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Office for Investment, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop. The facility currently employs approximately 950 persons, fifty percent of whom work from within the facility and the remainder from their homes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the tour, the Senior Finance Minister lauded the efforts of the business’s founder who saw the potential for investment in Guyana and commenced operations in 2017. The business, even now in the current challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, has continued to enable the employment of hundreds of Guyanese, including young persons and single-parents. Minister Singh encouraged the business to strive to continue to assist in the development of the country through job-creation, noting that Government would also support any measure taken by the business to expand to other Regions of the country. The Minister alluded to the number of persons who travel from elsewhere in the country to work in Georgetown and suggested that businesses expanding to other areas is always welcome by communities as employees and other job-seekers usually prefer employment in closer proximity to their homes.

“Teleperformance is one of the largest BPOs worldwide with a phenomenal global footprint operating in literally every single continent of the world with an almost universal coverage so Teleperformance is exactly the kind of Company that when we initiated our work in introducing BPO operations and attracting BPO investors into Guyana-Teleperformance is exactly the type of company that we wanted to attract. Thus, we are extremely pleased to see that the company has come to Guyana, has established operations and has grown in the manner that it has,” Dr. Singh said.

Dr. Singh reiterated that the BPO sector has the potential to create jobs, generate income, spur economic activity and improve lives generally and it is why the People’s Progressive Party /Civic (PPP/C) Government has been (since its previous term in office) promoting Guyana as a destination for BPO business which proved to be a success. He also alluded to the current Irfaan- Ali led Government’s strong support for any effort by businesses which aligns with its vision of diversification of the economy which will also contribute to ensuring the country maintains a stable macro economic environment since it would be unwise for it to solely depend on its main sectors.

Meanwhile, during the Minister’s visit, the CEO gave a video presentation which portrayed Guyana as a unique and premier destination for BPO businesses, something which the Finance Minister said he was impressed with as it highlighted Guyana in a manner that Government would have wanted the country to be marketed in terms of its competitive advantages-as a premier, English Speaking country with highly-educated citizens ready for the world of work such as in the BPO industry.

“We see this sector creating thousands of jobs in Guyana and not a lot of people know what is happening in the BPO sector and as part of the series of these meetings, I have been having-one of my objectives was to raise public awareness of what’s happening in the sector,” the Senior Finance Minister emphasized.

“In the pre-2015 period, we had already recognized the vast potential for BPO service, and we had invested a lot of policy effort into the sector,” Minister Singh said, explaining that Teleperformance is the ideal example of what can be achieved by persons willing to invest in Guyana.

The Minister had echoed similar sentiments during his visits and tours of other BPO facilities recently.

He had referenced the fact that many businesses internationally are recognizing Guyana as a prime destination for BPO services especially with its English-speaking population, its educated workforce and its close proximity to the United States of America and Canada.

Teleperformance, located at Camp and Robb Streets, commenced its Guyana operations in October, 2017. The company on a global scale serves more than 170 markets and has a presence in 80 countries, providing services in technical support, customer acquisition, sales and consulting. Teleperformance Guyana plans to increase its employment number to 1,200 by year-end.

Senior Finance Minister outlines Guyana’s plans for economic transformation to IsDB Group Meetings in Uzbekistan

-Private sector to play pivotal role, Govt placing renewed focus on LCDS to combat Climate Change

–expresses gratitude to Bank for its continued support

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, September 3, 2021: During his presentation today while participating in the 2021 Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group’s Annual Meetings in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh congratulated the Government and people of Uzbekistan for the excellent arrangements put in place for the meetings, especially since they are taking place during the challenging period of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senior Finance Minister also congratulated the current President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Dr. Muhammad Sulaiman Al Jasser, who commenced duties last month. He also thanked his predecessor Dr. Bandar Hajjar for his commitment to the Bank and the IsDB’s support for Guyana’s development agenda during his tenure.

“We were very pleased to hear the new President’s inaugural address yesterday as he highlighted development priorities, such as social infrastructure and human capital development, stimulating domestic and high-valued foreign investments, digital transformation to secure greater resilience, building out infrastructure, environmental considerations, international climate commitments, regional integration and cooperation, and building fiscal buffers. These are all priorities that are acutely relevant to Guyana, “Dr. Singh said.

Alluding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Finance Minister reminded that it is wreaking havoc across the globe, sparing no country nor community while Policymakers worldwide have had to grapple with the human tragedy and economic trauma that the pandemic brought with it.

“In Guyana, as if the challenges of COVID-19 were not enough, we then had to contend with unprecedented flooding, as a result of extraordinary levels of rainfall since May this year, resulting in a national disaster declared. These floods caused the displacement of households and farmers and extensive damage to property, including farms, crops, and livestock. These floods have also brought into sharp focus Guyana’s continued vulnerability to climate risks,” he added.

The Senior Finance Minister then lauded the Bank’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Program (SPRP), which provided a total of US$4.5 billion of support to help member countries contain, mitigate, and recover from COVID-19. He noted, however, that despite this, the battle with COVID- 19 is far from over.

Dr. Singh told participants that Government, under the Leadership of President Irfaan Ali, has requested the reprogramming of previously approved funds and programming of new resources to
help Guyana strengthen its capacity to respond to any future extreme climatic events and to build more resilient infrastructure. Discussions are ongoing with the Bank on this, as Government aims to garner the required support while also ensuring that this support is delivered in the shortest possible time.

“We are also engaged in discussions with the Bank on several transformative projects, aimed at reinforcing our resilience and harnessing our untapped economic potential, particularly in the non- oil sector. We have already initiated discussions on many projects in the transport infrastructure sector with the Bank, including farm-to-market roads, which will open new arable land. Here again, timely conclusion of these discussions will help accelerate realisation of the outcomes targeted by these critical interventions,” The Senior Finance Minister explained.

Dr. Singh posited during his presentation that even as Guyana faces many immediate challenges the country still has bright and exciting opportunities ahead in its current momentous juncture of economic evolution.

“As one of the world’s newest oil producers, with the potential to become a significant supplier on the global scale, Guyana is poised for a dramatic structural shift in our economy. We intend to seize this moment to leapfrog the growing pains that new oil and gas producers suffer all too often, including by ensuring that we achieve and maintain a globally competitive non-oil economy from the very outset,” he emphasized.

The Senior Finance Minister then underscored the pivotal role Guyana’s Private Sector will play in the realization of the country’s transformation, both at the domestic and international levels.

“While Government will maintain a supportive environment and will invest in supportive infrastructure, the bulk of the economic growth will be driven by private investment and Guyana abounds with opportunity today for the private sector. In this regard, the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD), the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC), and International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) all have important mandates. We look forward to these private sector-oriented entities within the IsDB Group playing a demonstrably bigger role in Guyana, and indeed in all other member countries, in the immediate future, Minister Singh said.

He also alluded to several policies put in place by Government in the past, which are being once again brought to the fore in the country’s fight against Climate Change such as the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

“Even as we become an oil and gas producer, Guyana prides itself as a global leader in the fight against climate change. The preservation of our pristine rainforest over generations has enabled us to make a disproportionate contribution to the global climate effort today. In 2008, we published what we believe was the first LCDS for a developing country. On the basis of that strategy, we partnered in 2009 with Norway in the world’s third largest international forest partnership to create the capabilities needed to integrate Guyana’s forest climate services within international carbon and other markets,” the Senior Finance Minister further emphasized.

On this note, he disclosed that the Government of Guyana is now working on a new and expanded LCDS which aims to ensure that Guyana’s standing forests are adequately remunerated for the global climate services they provide, adding that the expanded LCDS will also encompass the blue economy for the first time so that Guyana can also harness full benefit of its vast marine resources in a sustainable manner.

“Guyana stands ready to share with the IsDB family our experience with economic development along a low carbon trajectory, and to work with the Bank to build a stronger coalition around the critical environmental and climate issues of our time,” Dr. Singh concluded as he reaffirmed Guyana’s commitment to working closely with the Bank and fellow members to advance economic development in all the countries.

The IsDB Group’s 2021 Annual Group Meetings (which also saw the presence of His Excellency Sardor Umurzakov, Chairman of the IsDB’s Board of Governors, along with other High-Level officials from around the world) are expected to wrap up on September 4.

Senior Finance Minister in Uzbekistan attending IsDB Meetings

Expected to ramp up more support for development projects in Guyana:

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, September 1, 2021: In continuing to advance Guyana's development trajectory, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh is currently attending the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group’s Annual Meetings in Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan. Guyana’s delegation attending the meetings also includes First Secretary and Charge d’Affaires at
Guyana’s Embassy in Kuwait, Safraaz Shadood. The meetings, taking place from September 1 to September 4, will see the IsDB’s Boards of Governors and General Assemblies discussing development, economic and financial issues along with institutional matters. Guyana became a member of the IsDB in 2016 making it the 57th country and the second from Latin America after Suriname to join the Bank.

The meetings of the Bank would usually attract over 2000 participants and the IsDB has noted that the Annual Meetings offer an ideal platform for decision-makers to discuss challenges and explore IsDB Group member countries’ economic and developmental opportunities. It was also noted that during the Annual Meetings, ‘participants benefit from various knowledge-sharing and flagship events which feature top-level panelists from governments, international and regional organizations, private sector, academia, and civil society’. Additionally, the Bank pointed out that the knowledge- sharing events programme provides a dynamic platform to discuss economic financial and development issues of current interest to IsDB Group member countries and their partners, while they also aim to encourage discussions and debates, promote partnerships, cooperation, and exchange experiences.

After his Assumption to office in August 2020, President Irfaan Ali met with President of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), Dr. Bandar Hajjar, and had discussions on financing for solar energy, agriculture, infrastructure, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) and measures in the fight against COVID-19. Then, in June last, following the unprecedented flooding of several
areas in Guyana, the IsDB committed to mobilizing support for the country in terms of critical intervention measures following another meeting between its President and the Head of State. The IsDB President had assured (following that meeting) that the Bank would make all efforts to support Guyana’s rebuilding efforts and enable more resilient infrastructure.

Earlier this month, the Government applied for financial support from the IsDB for the Hinterland Electrification Programme. It was pointed out that some funding would be used to target the construction and rehabilitation of two small hydropower plants in Lethem Region Nine.

Finance Minister tours Midas BPO Inc.

Lauds CEO on remarkable success as 330 jobs created over the last 12 months

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, August 24, 2021: Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni K. Singh today visited Midas Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) Inc., located on New Market Street, Georgetown, where he lauded the efforts of the business’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr. Malcolm Sobers on pursuing his vision, which eventually materialized into a successful BPO facility in Guyana. The businessman currently employs 330 Guyanese, and his business is heading towards expansion soon. Mr. Sobers, a Guyanese, who started as a young employee himself in 2001 (later becoming a consultant then proprietor), indicated that he intends to employ at least 1000 persons by the end of 2021 or soonest. His business has branches located at Grove, East Bank Demerara as well as on Lombard Street currently. However, by the end of this month, he will consolidate the branch at Lombard Street with the newly set up one at New Market Street.

Midas BPO Inc. is a Contact Centre/BPO company with its Founder, Mr. Sobers having approximately 20 years of experience in Call-Centre operations both in Guyana and in Belize, where he had lived for some time and assisted the industry through consultancy work. In Belize, he started working on his vision of his own BPO business with just four agents employed back in 2014. The business grew to between 60 to 70 employees and, Mr. Sobers decided to return to his homeland to take up consultancy work in 2019. In August 2020, he commenced his operations in Guyana during the COVID-19 pandemic, starting out with a few agents working from home. The rest became history, but it was 20 years of gradual success for Mr. Sobers who started as a youth in the industry and even met his now wife, Mrs. Sobers, also working in a BPO Call Centre at the time. Midas BPO Inc. presently employs approximately 330 agents while its Founder still maintains operations in Belize.

During the visit, the Finance Minister described Mr. Sobers’ story (of spending all of his working life in the industry and later becoming a proprietor himself) as a remarkable one, and one which others can emulate, as it highlights that the sector has unique possibilities for success and growth for each agent. He noted, therefore, that it should not be taken lightly and is partly why his Government intends to continue working with the sector to ensure its continued growth, as this will allow for the creation of thousands of jobs and the generation of income for many families. He also emphasized that the visit is in keeping with the PPP/C Government’s larger vision of diversifying the Guyanese economy and ensuring that there is a dynamic economic base.

The Finance Minister, who was accompanied on the visit by GOINVEST's Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop, encouraged the enthusiastic proprietor to expand his operations to other Regions of Guyana, which Mr. Sobers indicated he fully intends to do.

The Senior Finance Minister’s visit was part of a recent series of visits to BPO facilities as Government continues its path of economic diversification, part of which includes promoting Guyana as a premier destination for BPO business.

‘Today’s occasion illustrates that which is possible’-Finance Minister says as new Surinamese Optical store launched in Guyana

Lauds company for its interest and investment in Guyana

Georgetown, Ministry of Finance, August 19, 2021: As Guyana and Suriname’s bilateral talks continue, Senior Finance Minister Dr. Ashni Singh today in delivering remarks at the launch of a new Surinamese optical store, Optiek Ninon on Camp Street in Georgetown, said Guyana is fully open for business as he lauded the Surinamese company for its investment in Guyana and simultaneously urged Guyanese companies to expand beyond Guyana’s border and invest in Suriname as he alluded to the fact that both countries’ Presidents have expressed similar interests during their discussions.

“At this very moment, Presidents Ali and Santokhi are meeting at the Pegasus Hotel with the private sectors of Guyana and Suriname discussing the incredibly exciting opportunities that there are for greater private sector expansion from the cross border perspective…and it must be a fortuitous and particularly special coincidence that the opening of this store is happening at a time when the Governments and the private sectors of our two countries are meeting to discuss what you have demonstrated is possible and doable,” Minister Singh said addressing the business’ representatives at the launch.

He added that the launch was symbolic as well because while Guyana and Suriname have been neighbours for time immemorial and while there has been movement of people back and forth across the Corentyne River, the economic potential of that proximity has not nearly realized the fullness of its potential.

“President Irfaan Ali could not be more emphatic in his conviction that the private sector will be the driver of economic growth and transformation. Internally, in our respective countries we are committed to making every aspect of doing business easier and simpler, and right now work is ongoing to identify ways in which bureaucratic processes can be simplified,” Minister Singh emphasized.

Meanwhile Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Business and International Cooperation, Mr. Albert Ramdin, while congratulating the Company on its fiftieth anniversary, expressed satisfaction that a business in his country had grown and expanded its brand in Guyana.

“This is the first branch in Georgetown. Establishing Optiek Ninon in Guyana is kind of a branding of Suriname as well. We take that as a value that we should not underestimate. We strongly believe that these two markets must be seen as one single market. We have to expand that market-it creates business opportunities, it creates opportunities for growth, investment and employment,” the Surinamese Minister said, then further expressed the hope that Guyanese businesses will also expand and open their doors in
Suriname to create opportunities as well for his country.

Optiek Ninon is a leading optical business in Suriname with over fifty years of experience and six branches in that country. The new store in Guyana is its seventh and first multinational branch. The business’ Founder was the late Ninon Brunings who opened her first store in Suriname in 1971. According to the business’s representatives, Ms. Ninon’s goal and passion was to make good eyesight and good quality glasses accessible to everyone.

They expressed their enthusiasm and excitement at having ventured to Guyana to open the business’ doors and lauded Guyanese for their hospitality and welcoming spirit during the time they spent here making arrangements for the business start-up. The Company has also employed a number of Guyanese as part of its team.