President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali on Sunday, during the feature address at the Guyanese Republic Jubilee Awards Ceremony and Presentation organised by the Guyana Consulate in Canada, invited Guyanese living in Canada to return home to invest while emphasising his Government’s commitment to ensuring an enabling environment for economic prosperity.
“I want to say to the Diaspora, stop doubting yourselves. Many of you call me directly and say I want to come and do this, but what if… what if what? Do not doubt yourselves. In investment there is an element of risk, in business there is an element of risk. In moving from one State to another there is an element of risk, in moving from one country to another there is an element of risk,” President Ali explained.
However, the head of State admitted that his Government needs to improve several areas in order to create a conducive atmosphere for growth and development such as the speed of public service as well as its quality
“We are not hiding from these things. These are things we have to fix and we are fixing,” he said.
President Ali also encouraged the Canada-based Guyanese to be courageous and pioneering in their endeavours to return, adding that they receive a warm welcome.
“Our republic is on an upward trajectory. We are constructing a more modern, diversified and resilient economy”— Dr Irfaan Ali, president, Cooperative Republic of Guyana
At the same time, Dr Ali also shared some of his Government’s plans to modernise Guyana’s economy and improve infrastructure.
“Our republic is on an upward trajectory. We are constructing a more modern, diversified and resilient economy,” he said, adding that although Guyana is now an oil-producing state, the country is still looking to diversify.
According to President Ali, the growth of the traditional sectors — rice, sugar, forestry, bauxite and gold mining — are critical to wealth creation, employment generation and income distribution, and so his Administration plans intends to modernise and grow them. In particular, he underscored the Government’s commitment to reviving the sugar industry in a “smarter manner” by moving production up the value-chain and by diversifying the industry.
A modern economy that is capable of rebounding from internal and external shocks requires transformative infrastructure, President Ali said.
He further pointed to the developmental plans in place to complete roadwork, railway rehabilitation and the construction of and a new high-span bridge across the Demerara River. He outlined, too, that included in the “transformation and transportation restructuring” is an upgrade of the maritime transit, which will see investments in new boats and ferries to the Northwest, and along the Essequibo and Berbice rivers.
President Ali also explained that a deep-water harbour, a new international airport at Lethem, industrial parks and free-trade zones will integrate Guyana’s economy with more powerful markets and convert the country into a major economic hub in the Western Hemisphere.
While Guyana has become an oil-producing nation, the head of State revealed that the Government is exploring a mix of energy projects including solar, wind and natural gas that will ensure energy security and of Guyana and reduce the cost of energy by 50 per cent. This, he said, should stimulate and boost the competitiveness of Guyana’s manufacturing sector.
On the matter of foreign affairs, Dr Ali stated: “We are working with the Republic of Suriname to bridge the Corentyne River and to create a corridor which will link French Guiana and Suriname to the East of Guyana and thence southwards to Brazil and other continental states.”
In terms of air travel, President Ali noted that his Government has “renegotiated and we were able to get back two additional bridges for our airport, more commercial space, and have the contractor agree to complete a full rehabilitation of the front of the airport, all at no cost to the Government.”
In the meantime, the Government has launched an aggressive marketing campaign to encourage airlifts to Guyana, with the aim of presenting the country as an air transport hub for South America.
“We have got tremendous traction. Unfortunately, with all the work we have been doing we have not been able to break into the Canadian market, but I assure you, I am confident that within the very near future we will have very good news for the Canadian market and Canadians in terms of air transport for Guyana,” President Ali said.