Category: Press Releases

12 Apr
By: Tanika Jones 0

Guyana signs loan agreement with the World Bank to Build Capacity in the Oil and Gas Sector

Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan today (April 11, 2019) participated in a signing ceremony with Ms. Tahseen Khan, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean, for a loan agreement which will build human resource capacity, and strengthen institutional frameworks in the Oil and Gas Sector.

Minister Jordan noted the timely nature of the loan agreement as it sought to provide much needed technical assistance to the emerging Oil and Gas Sector.

Ms. Khan said that the loan agreement will aid in building the capacity of key institutions, such as the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ministry of Finance, for prudent management of the oil revenues.

The Hon. Minister was accompanied by Dr. Gobind Ganga, Governor, Bank of Guyana, Dr. Riyad Insanally, Guyana’s Ambassador to USA and Mr. Jason Fields from the Embassy of Guyana.

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08 Apr
By: Tanika Jones 2

Requirements for Pensions & Gratuities – FAQs

1. How long is a Government pensioner’s life certificate valid?
A life certificate is valid for three (3) months. It is renewable on or before the last working day of the month in which it expires.

2. Who is authorised to endorse a life certificate?
Life Certificates for pensioners residing in Guyana must be certified by a Notary Public, Commissioner of Oaths, Head of Department, Justice of the Peace, Minister of Religion or the Manager of a Bank.
For pensioners living abroad, life certificates must be certified by a Notary Public or the Guyana Consulate of the country in which the pensioner resides.

Important: The certifying officer must affix an official stamp on the life certificate.

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Requirements for Pensions & Gratuities
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03 Apr
By: Tanika Jones 0

Guyana’s Oil & Gas sector benefits from US$20M loan from World Bank

Guyana has secured a US$20 million loan to support capacity building for Petroleum Resources Governance and Management from the World Bank. The loan was approved on Friday March 29, 2019.

This Project will enhance the transparency, governance, legal, regulatory and institutional frameworks for the oil and gas sector in Guyana.

The Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (GCRG), in recognition of the risks associated with being a new oil and gas (O&G) producer, has worked to negotiate this loan with the World Bank to address governance and management risks from inadequate policy, legal and regulatory frameworks and institutional capacity needed to maximize the benefits from expected oil revenues; and to minimize downside risks associated with oil revenues and growth of the sector.

As such, the components of this loan reflect the reality that the O&G sector will affect multiple layers of the economy; impact the livelihoods of present and future generations; the environment and local communities; and that if poorly managed, the development of O&G resources can be economically and socially costly for the country.  

Additionally, there are environmental and social risks – usually infrequent but with high impact – associated with O&G production that require effective and constant monitoring, as well as significant investment in environmental damage prevention and response capacity, among others.

The GCRG is keen to invest in strengthening its institutions and building capacity to manage O&G resources. Therefore, the Project envisages that Guyana’s legal and regulatory frameworks for the O&G sector will be reviewed and updated with a view to maximizing benefits to the country and affected communities; managing the technical, environmental, social, and financial risks linked to the sector; and building capacity to engage effectively with investors.  Institutional capacity to oversee and manage the O&G sector in the various relevant government ministries, commissions and other departments will be created using consultants, initially, but with a view to ensuring local personnel are trained to replace these technical advisers over time.

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01 Apr
By: Tanika Jones 2

Kuwait Investment Authority, State of Kuwait Cancels US$50,739,255.67 of Guyana’s Debt

Georgetown: A Bilateral Debt Settlement Agreement was signed by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, on March 18, 2019, with the State of Kuwait, through the Kuwait Investment Authority, to cancel US$50,739,255.67 of Guyana’s debt to that country.

This debt cancellation will reduce Guyana’s external debt and allow the country to expand its development agenda, as funds saved under this agreement would be allocated to social projects within the context of the National Budget.

The agreement, which came after an ardent negotiation process, paves the way for greater co-operation and the strengthening of cordial ties between the two countries.

Commenting on the agreement, Minister Jordan said that it is the result of renewed efforts by his Ministry to engage Guyana’s non-Paris club bilateral creditors in negotiating debt relief that is acceptable and sustainable.

The remaining amount of US$26,853,585.23 will be settled through a combination of cash payments, to be made over nine (9) years, and a debt swap arrangement, which will be worked out in due course.

Guyana’s debt to Kuwait originated from a Loan Deposit, contracted in 1975, from the Central Bank of Kuwait for Kuwaiti Dinars 3.0 million (US$10.3 million at that time), for balance of payments support to the Bank of Guyana. The debt accumulated massive arrears over the past four (4) decades, at high market interest rates. As at December 31, 2017, the debt to Kuwait had grown to US$77,592,840.90, comprising principal arrears of US$9,940,500 and interest arrears of US$67,652,340.90.  

Since assuming office in 2015, the Finance Minister has pursued debt relief from other bilateral non-Paris club creditors with whom Guyana’s debts are in arrears.

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15 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Minister Jordan delivers remarks at signing of MOU between Guyana and Barbados Stock Exchanges

Address by Hon Winston Jordan
Minister of Finance

Mr. Chairman
Hon Minister of Business Mr. Dominic Gaskin
Mr. Nikhil Ramkarran          Chairman of GASCI
Mr. George Edwards            General Manger of GASCI
Mr. Marlon Yarde              Managing Director, Barbados Stock Exchange
Representatives of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

Good afternoon

Let me begin by saying that I am very happy to be here today to witness the signing of this Memorandum of Cooperation between the Barbados Stock Exchange and Guyana Association of Securities and Intermediaries Inc. (GASCI). Facilitating the growth of securitized financing in Guyana as well as strengthening the banking system has featured prominently in our economic development. There is general recognition of their central role in ensuring adequate financing for growing enterprises and in promoting domestic investment and wealth creation.

I still recall our early attempts to establish a stock exchange in Guyana, in the 1980s. As things stand, we were the last of the territories in the CARICOM grouping to set up a stock exchange. I believe that it was not until June 30, 2003 that trading began on the Guyana Stock Exchange. In spite of the passage of time, the arrangement is still primitive, by Caribbean standards, with trading being done weekly, via word of mouth on the trading floor, supported by an electronic limit order book.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the swift advancement in technology and globalization has impacted the manner in which stock markets, globally, conduct business. Cross- border listing, which has proven to have many advantages, has now become a common practice in many stock markets. In the case of the Guyana Stock Exchange, Trinidad Cement Limited became the first to do so, in January 2007. And so, today, I am happy to witness an attempt at the integration and expansion of Guyana’s stock exchange, and I want to congratulate GASCI for taking this step.

As a Government, we have been placing much emphasis on financial sector reform and development, and we have been addressing the issue in a holistic manner, to ensure that a diverse financial system is established – one that includes a capital market and a banking sector that is efficient, stable and equipped to respond to shocks. It is in this context that we have recently enacted legislation and amended existing laws to strengthen the Bank of Guyana, as the regulatory authority for the commercial banks and the non- bank financial institutions. In the same vein, while measures in support of the development of the local stock market are already in place – for example, the exemption of dividends from withholding tax – the Government has received support from the Commonwealth Secretariat to re-write the Securities Industry Act of 1998. This Act governs the operations of Guyana Securities Council, which regulates the Capital Market in Guyana. The draft bill and accompanying regulations have been with the Attorney General Chambers for final review, for some time now, and we expect that these can be finalized and presented to the National Assembly for passage, before the end of 2019.

The idea of re-writing the existing laws stemmed from the need to ensure that the capital market operates in a fair and efficient manner, with minimum systemic risks and a high level of protection for investors. The new law is consistent with international best practices, including the principles adopted by the International Organization of Securities Commissions and the CARICOM Model Securities Legislation. It provides a modern and robust framework for the development and operation of the Securities sector, and puts greater emphasis on oversight and supervision, reduction of systemic risks and financial stability.

I must add, ladies and gentlemen that, as part of the overhaul and strengthening of the financial architecture, the World Bank is currently providing financial and technical assistance to the Government of Guyana to implement a modern and electronic Payment System. Two key deliverables of this Project are a Real-Time Gross Settlement System, and a Central Securities Depository for electronic record keeping and electronic settlement of securities. These features will reduce transaction time; reduce the risks involved in the trading of securities; and make trading more convenient for all market participants. An electronic payment mechanism will be new to Guyana, but I have noticed that the Barbados Stock Exchange has been operating under a fully electronic trading regime since 2001. This, to my mind, provides an opportunity for Guyana to learn from Barbados’ experience.

Ladies and gentlemen, the impressive developments in the petroleum sector and the expectation of first oil in early 2020 – there is talk that this timetable could be advanced to the last quarter of 2019 – set the tone for an economic transformation in Guyana. The transformation process, however, requires significant inputs from the local private sector. The Government is developing an appropriate local content mechanism; however, in order for local industries to equally participate in the provision of goods and services at all levels of the oil and gas value chain, access to affordable and adequate financing must be readily available. An efficient stock market can play a critical role in this process, by providing financing that serves as a complement to the more traditional forms such as commercial bank lending.

Another area that it is crucial to the development of our stock market is financial literacy; indeed, financial literacy is important to the proper functioning and intermediation of the financial system. There is no doubt that financially-literate businesses will choose to lower the cost of borrowing by issuing shares, and investors with a high level of financial literacy will diversify their investment portfolio by purchasing shares in profitable businesses. I therefore, urge GASCI to narrow the financial literacy deficit in Guyana, by undertaking a financial literacy programme to ensure that Guyanese in the near and far reaches of the country are made aware of the benefits of participating in the local stock market.

As CARICOM Member States, while this initiative will deepen the integration process, it will also provide other benefits for both countries. There is no doubt, ladies and gentlemen, that it will provide an expanded pool of finance for investors, and will provide the opportunity to benefit from, and be a part of, successful businesses in both jurisdictions. The issuer’s recognition can also be strengthened and the image of the company’s product enhanced in both jurisdictions.

As we seek to integrate our capital markets, we must be cognizant of the serious threat that financial crime poses to the system. As a region, we have been placing much emphasis on measures to combat all forms of illicit activities, because some of our member states are still affected by the impact of derisking and blacklisting. I, therefore urge GASCI to ensure that adequate due diligence is conducted on all market participants, so as to safeguard the integrity of the local stock exchange. I also urge the Guyana Securities Council to undertake enhanced surveillance and intensify its efforts to put mitigation measures in place.

Let me once again congratulate GASCI, for taking this bold step, which I am sure, will create a long- term relationship, and provide new prospects for business and investment opportunities in both jurisdictions.

I thank you.

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15 Mar
By: Tanika Jones 0

Minister of Finance Remarks at opening of DDL’s new warehouse

Featured Address delivered by Hon Winston Jordan
Minister of Finance
March 15, 2019

Hon Carl Greenidge, Acting Prime Minister, Vice President and Minister of Foreign Affairs
Hon Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business
Members of the Diplomatic Corp
Executive Chairman and Members of the Board of Directors of DDL
Management and staff of DDL
Members of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

I am extremely pleased to be able to deliver the feature address at the opening of this new, state-of-the-art warehouse. As you know, I am doing so in the absence of HE President David Granger, who was originally invited, but who is unavoidably absent. He has asked me to deputise for him, which I consider an honour in so doing.

Please allow me to extend congratulations to the Board of Directors, Management and staff of DDL for being the visionary that is required to propel growth in Guyana. I, especially, want to recognize Mr. Komal Samaroo, one of the country’s leading businessmen, a man with a vision, following resolutely in the footsteps of his mentor, the legendary Dr Yesu Persaud, whose name is synonymous with DDL.

Komal and I go way back to our school days at Cummings Lodge Government Secondary School, a little known Junior High School nestled in the Cummings Lodge/Industry area – a stone’s throw from the University of Guyana – but which has produced the likes of myself and Komal. Both of us, indeed the thousands who have entered into, and passed through, the doors of that school, learnt the values of excellence, discipline, hard work and sacrifice. I can these values on display in today’s achievement that is being celebrated.

I believe it was last year, at the Pegasus Hotel, when I was invited by the Private Sector to one of their activities. Prior speakers were all lamenting the state of the economy, how bad things were, etc. That is, until they called upon Komal to speak. Modestly, he claimed to be not much of a speaker. But when he spoke, and what he spoke not only evoked rapt attention, but also prolonged applause. What he spoke should be guiding lessons to the private sector: where there is a will, there is an opportunity; where there is a challenge, there is a profit. If we see the glass as only being half empty, others will exploit the other full half.

Mr. Chairman, it goes without saying that our economy cannot realize its full potential without the presence of domestic companies like yours, because domestic private companies are a major driver of job creation and economic growth in any economy. I am sure that this warehouse will provide a more spacious and conducive environment for you to conduct business, as your company expands and continues to enhance the image of its products on the domestic and international markets.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this investment is evidence of the improvement in the investment climate in Guyana. This is one of several large investments that are taking place in the country, and it is an indicator of how confident private businesses are about the state of our economy. Last year, at the time of reporting, in November, our growth rate was pegged at 3.4 percent, leading the region’s premier development bank, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to recognize Guyana as having one of the fastest growing economies. Our latest estimate of 2018’s real growth in the economy, with the benefit of near final numbers, is between 3.6 percent and 3.9 percent. The final figure will be known when the End of Year Outcome Report is completed by mid-April. Importantly, since this Government has acceded to Office, we have managed to keep the economy growing in an increasingly hostile international (de-risking, AML/CFT) and domestic (political instability, challenges experienced by the traditional growth sectors) environment. That growth has been achieved in the context of low inflation, and a manageable fiscal deficit and debt/GDP ratio.

Guyana is increasingly being seen as the “go to” destination. My recent experience at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) Convention, the largest mining convention in the world, attests to this growing recognition. There, at the Guyana Day, over 270 investors were attendance – several of whom had to be accommodated in an overflow room – expressing a deep interest in Guyana and its investment climate. Many of them were well-known names in the industry. Guyanese Ministers (2 were in attendance) and technical officials were sought after.

But let me hasten to say that this government will continue to put in place, enhanced measures to ensure adequate public infrastructure, favorable macroeconomic conditions, strengthen institutions and reduce bureaucratic red tape because we understand that these are critical conditions for a positive and dynamic business and investment climate, and we are making every effort to attract investors for investment in the different sectors of the economy. Only this morning, I was reading a report done by the IDB, which mentioned that high taxes ranks among the top detriments to private sector growth in Guyana. I am pleased to indicate that in its nearly four years, this Government has implemented a slew of tax reforms that have been comprehensive in scope and unparalleled in the history of this country for a Government at a similar stage of its political life.

Infrastructure is often cited, too, as another obstacle that stymies competitiveness in Guyana. Komal mentioned, in passing, the proposed by-pass road to be built between Ogle and Diamond. I am pleased to indicate that the Government has taken a decision to undertake a phase II, which will see a study being done to extend this road all the way to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport. The current bilateral donor of phase I is being approached to finance this second stage. The Kuwaiti Arab Fund for Economic Development (KAFED) has been approached to finance the Parika/Goshen Road. This road will eventually be extended to Monkey Jump and all the way to Bartica, thereby providing an alternative route to that important, new town. Already, KAFED recently approved a US$1.65 million grant to finance a study for the road widening between Belfield and Rosignol. And, if we need reminding, Government has already secured financing to finance the first leg of the Linden/Lethem Road, in particular, from Linden to Mabura and a bridge across the Essequibo River at Kurupakari. These are just some of the exciting infrastructural developments that are in the formative or gestation stage.

I was very pleased to have read in the Chairman’s Annual Report for 2018, that the company had recorded its highest revenue ever, in 2018, and that local and international revenue continued to show encouraging growth. Your achievement is not singular, in this regard: your main local competitor has also recorded tremendous sales and after-tax profits. I was also happy to learn that DDL’s after tax profits were 26 percent higher than the previous year. Congratulations for your astute management of this dynamic company. Your shareholders should be pleased with the growing value of their shares and the receipt of higher dividends. But, Mr. Chairman, you will agree with me that the reduction in the corporation tax rate, from 30 percent to 27.5 percent; the reduction in the VAT rate and the other fiscal measures in support of the private sector impacted on the company’s profitability.  And this is great news, because it is being peddled by the purveyors of doom and gloom in our country that the tax burden has become excessive and business activities are declining. Once again, I want to congratulate DDL on this sterling performance and assure you that this Government will continue to do what is necessary to promote the expansion and sustainability of local private businesses in Guyana.

I am optimistic that the Chairman’s annual report for 2019 will also highlight super profits, in light of the reduction in the corporate, capital gains and property tax rates for private sector businesses that the government has granted in the 2019 budget, as well as the new wear and tear allowance for Service and Warehouse buildings. I would also like to proudly state that as the Minister of Finance, the tax burden for both businesses and individuals has reduced under my watch. More importantly, in the 2019 Budget, our Government has fulfilled a promise that was made in its manifesto, that is, to reduce the manufacturing tax rate to 25 percent during its first term in office. And, today, I announce to you that during our second term in office, you can expect the corporate tax rate for manufacturing entities to be reduced to at least 20 percent, consistent with our recognition that manufacturing and industry has to drive the oil and gas economy. This is just one of the many positive reforms that can be expected during our second term in government.

DDL has a great privilege, you are operating the last of many distilleries that were present in Guyana during the days of king sugar. And so, at this juncture when the government was forced to make a realistic decision about some of the sugar estates in Guyana, I am happy to see that one of our traditional sugar estates has been transformed into a very profitable private sector business. This will serve as evidence that the decision to privatize some of the sugar estates, in our effort to restructure the industry, should not be perceived as a doomsday outcome – especially peddled by the very people who bankrupted the industry with a costly, ill-advised and inefficient US$200 million Skeldon Modernisation Project, for which our taxpayers are being forced to repay – but it can be properly administered and bring significant benefits to our country and people.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, this is not to say that the Government is unmindful of the immediate impact of this decision on the livelihood of displaced workers. We understand, and we are working assiduously to find appropriate solutions to the problems. In this regard, the Government has already secured a $30 billion loan to invest into the sugar industry, while we have met all payment of severance to the sugar workers. Many of them have invested in small businesses, including the planting of fruits and vegetables, which can fuel DDL’s tropical juices factory.

It was just a few months ago that I visited the Diamond facility to get a firsthand look at the investment and expansion that the company is undertaking. I was impressed by the level of expansion taking place at the facility – all $10 billion of it – and the value added products that DDL is producing and contemplates to produce. During that visit, I encouraged DDL to expand its juice manufacturing business by utilizing more of the traditional types of fruits. I am confident, that given the track record of this company, more farmers will soon find markets for their fruits.

Mr. Chairman, this Government is putting the necessary infrastructure in place to facilitate sustainable growth and development that will be guided by the Green State Development Strategy. This Strategy is in keeping with HE President Granger’s vision of a green Guyana. DDL has established a CO2 Plant, to utilize waste products from the distillery into other aspects of business. I am happy to see that this company is positioning itself to align with the government’s green agenda, and we applaud you because, going forward the process will require the full support of the private sector, specifically in terms of the manner in which they do business, and the use and adaptation of green technologies. Let me also add that in an effort to ease the country’s fiscal constraints on investment and efficiency, a Public- Private Partnership Framework was established as a delivery model to overcome some of the challenges that hinder the execution of development projects. The framework prioritizes core projects for collaboration between the Government and the local and external private sector, and we expect local businesses and investors in the Diaspora will respond to this opportunity to actively participate in the development process. While not collaborating in the physical infrastructure, DDL has been making efforts to partner with the Government in the manufacture of milk and dairy products. Both of these command a sizeable component of our import bill for consumption goods.

This is a defining moment for Guyana, we are anxiously awaiting first oil as early as the last quarter of 2019, and we want to ensure that all Guyanese benefit from these new resources. The legislation for the establishment of a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) was assented to by President Granger on January 23, 2019. The SWF will ensure that petroleum revenues are efficiently managed and utilized. You are also aware that the government is in the process of developing a local content policy to ensure that Guyanese individuals and businesses get a fair piece of the pie. But, Mr. Chairman, this will not materialize unless our private sector gets its act together. On a recent visit to the operations of First Bauxite Corporation, at Sandhills, up the Demerara River, I was horrified that 5,000 tonnes of stone being offloaded from a barge was imported from St. Lucia. This, in a country with at least four quarries. When I enquired, I was told that Guyana does not produce stone of the quality, quantity and dimensions required. I have had the displeasure of learning of similar occurrences in respect of the airport expansion and a number of road building projects that are financed by international donors. First Bauxite Corporation expects to import another 10,000 tonnes for their operations, a drain of valuable export earnings and a loss of jobs and value added.

There is no doubt that investments like what we are witnessing today are geared towards the expectation of greater demand for the goods and services you offer. This is a positive step for Guyana and your company, and I am sure that there are other businesses that are also in the preparation mode. The government is also putting measures in place to diversify the economy and modernize the traditional sectors to ensure that we do not fall into the trap of other oil producing countries where oil becomes a curse rather than a blessing, because they became heavily dependent on petroleum and neglected the traditional sector.

In closing, let me once again congratulate the Board of Directors and management of DDL for undertaking this significant investment which will no doubt impact on the performance of our economy, and assure you that this government will continue to support private sector businesses because we are serious about developing a strong and dynamic private sector for sustained poverty reduction in Guyana. The Good Life beckons!

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