Agri. Ministry engages local bodies to develop proactive mechanisms for sectoral investments

The Government of Guyana, since taking office, has started laying the groundwork to promote an enabling environment for investment in several productive sectors.

Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha with AmCham President, Zulfikar Ally

Over the last few months, local and international investors have begun to engage Government after signalling their interest to invest. They are optimistic about a smooth process now that the ‘red tape’ experienced under the previous administration have been eliminated.

In keeping with this, Agriculture Minister, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha met President of the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Guyana Incorporated, Mr. Zulfikar Ally, during which a number of areas were discussed. This includes the Chamber playing a more distinct role in linking Government to investors from the United States of America.

Mr. Ally indicated that the Chamber had received a significant amount of investment proposals and is currently working to ensure that the proposals presented to the Government are from reputable individuals and entities who are ready and serious about investing.

“We have some big US companies interested in the agriculture sector, but I’ve not brought them to you yet because I met with the US Embassy and informed the officials there that all the interest that we’re having, they’re going to the Ministers of Government and they are overwhelmed with all of these things. We have to find a mechanism whereby we can properly screen them before we send them to meet with Government. The fact of the matter is that a lot of people want to invest, but there are cases where persons or companies just want to find out what is there. This is where it becomes difficult because in the mix, there are people who have the means to invest but are not getting the audience with the relevant persons. This is why we are working to sift this out so that when Government officials do meet with people who would’ve been recommended by AmCham, they know that all due diligence was performed and that these people have all the relevant information on the investment opportunities in the various sectors,” Mr. Ally said.

He added that AmCham, GoInvest and the GMSA will be meeting with the US embassy shortly to establish a system whereby every US investor that signals an interest in Guyana, undergoes a screening process so as to gather the necessary background information before their interests are forwarded to the various Government officials.  This, he added, will ensure that when investment proposals reach to a ministerial level of review and consideration, all the necessary groundwork would’ve already been conducted.

Minister Mustapha welcomed the idea, saying that the government remains committed to engaging all the relevant bodies when examining investment opportunities.

“Government, since taking office, has committed to working with bodies like AmCham to ensure there is a close working relationship between the Government and the private sector. If we are to really move forward with investments to benefit the citizens of this country and promote development, there needs to be some level of involvement and inclusion when making these decisions. We have received a lot of investment proposals and we are working to determine which projects fit into our developmental agenda. From an agriculture standpoint, we are looking for investors in a number of areas such as poultry, sugar, rice, dairy, soya bean and corn just to name a few. We have the lands available for large scale for production corn and soya bean in the Intermediate Savannah in the Canje basin. In last year’s emergency budget, we would’ve included a number of incentives to promote the cultivation of these two commodities. We are also looking to develop the poultry industry. There is room for persons looking to invest in poultry production on a large scale so that Guyana would be able to tap into Regional and International markets. The number of persons we have in the industry now; we cannot afford to export so much,” Minister Mustapha said.

Facilitating investments

The Guyana Office for Investment (GoInvest) is also working with the Ministry to develop a number of investment packages that will be used as a guide for persons desirous of investing in different areas in the agriculture sector.  

Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha and GoInvest CEO, Dr. Peter Ramseroop.

Chief Executive Officer of GoInvest, Dr. Peter Ramsaroop said the agency is working to ensure a proactive approach is taken to ensure the right investments are pursued and investors are fitted with the relevant information on the sector.  

“What we are working to do in executing our mandate, is to be proactive by assisting your Ministry with taking the necessary steps to facilitate the processes that comes along with an intent to invest. We are working assiduously to properly market agriculture. We’ll go through the processes with the investors from the business side, the source of funding and so on; the things that are mandatory. We’ll then send it back to the Ministry, with our recommendation on whether it’s a viable project or not, the criteria for investment and concession necessary so that the Ministry can act,” Dr. Ramsaroop said.

Minister Mustapha said such initiatives will further promote investments in Guyana over the next five years.

“I think that with agencies like GoInvest taking these steps to promote investment opportunities in Guyana both locally and overseas, in another five years from now, we will see a complete transformation in the economy with the magnitude of investments coming in. The potential is there, we just have to ensure it is done in a sustainable and organised manner,” Minister Mustapha said.