Guyana now a land of opportunity

Formerly one of the poorest countries in the region, Guyana is now transforming itself into the investment capital of the Caribbean. A place to do business, a place to work, a place to play.

This is how T&T nationals among other countries are viewing this South American country.

Some observers predict in future Guyana will be the next “Dubai of the Caribbean.” The Caribbean’s next best thing and a land of opportunity.

Guyana’s Finance Minister Ashni Singh expects the oil and gas sector to grow by 96.7 per cent and the country’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to increase by 47.5 per cent in 2022. Guyana’s forecasted oil production of one million barrels per day (bbl/d) by 2030 and projected income of tens of billions in the next decade puts it ahead of the rest of the Caribbean region.

Guyana is even outbidding T&T in some areas as the world’s large multinationals are heading there. It was reported last December that President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alastair Routledge announced that the US-based company moved all of its supply chain services from T&T to Guyana.

While Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley was unable to attend Guyana’s energy conference in February, Energy Ministry representatives, T&T’s business people as well as other sectors of the country were present and continue to build ties.

A month ago UNC Naparima MP Rodney Charles said T&T has more to benefit from ties with rising stars like Guyana rather than controversial countries like Venezuela and Iran.

Last week in Parliament, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and Naparima MP Rodney Charles clashed over comments that Charles made about Guyana. Charles stated that Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley went to Guyana and “came back with 10,000 jobs” while Rowley went to Qatar (and came back with no jobs), and asked if he should not have gone to Guyana instead.

Rowley suggested to Charles that he should go to Guyana (or Barbados) to live as he “is always talking about Guyana” and Barbados.

Charles also asked why Rowley declined the invitation to attend the International Energy Conference and Expo in Guyana. Rowley said this particular invitation did not fit his schedule but T&T was represented by the Ministry of Energy and other agencies and T&T’s business was conducted.

The exchange between the Prime Minister and the Opposition MP turned into a shouting match which Speaker Bridgid Annisette-George said she will not tolerate.

Economist and International Relations consultant Dr Anthony Gonzales told the Sunday Guardian despite its poor past, Guyana is doing all the right things to position itself as one of the region’s rising stars.

Businessman Derek Chin who was born in Guyana encouraged business people as well as people from all walks of life to head to Guyana where opportunities are plentiful.

Jobs and opportunities

T&T has had decades of experience in the energy sector and now they are taking that experience to Guyana. Kaieteur News in Guyana in an article in 2021 spoke about T&T’s companies “flooding Guyana’s oil sector.”

Several Trinidadian companies recently applied to Guyana’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for permission to set up a local base. These companies include Weatherford, United Independent Petroleum Marketing Company Limited, Vista Trading and Logistics, and Non-Destructive Testers Limited (NDTL).

The ANSA McAL conglomerate also has a presence in Guyana in sectors like construction and the media.

Paving companies have already set up operations there as well.

www.caribbeanjobs.com has also been advertising jobs that T&T nationals can apply for in Guyana, some of which include Geotechnical/Materials Engineer, retail store operations manager, HR manager and petroleum engineer.

More opportunities in Guyana mean a greater need for connectivity.

Three weeks ago, Caribbean Airlines announced it will launch a new service between Guyana and Houston until the end of June. The carrier will fly three times a week between Georgetown and Houston Intercontinental, and flights started on March 22. The timing of flights will also allow passengers to connect with Caribbean Airlines’ Port-of-Spain hub in T&T.

Retail and entertainment

People are also seeing opportunities in Guyana’s entertainment sector and money to be made there. Guyanese-born Chin, who came to T&T as a child, is optimistic about Guyana’s future.

He told the Sunday Guardian that Guyana’s past is one of poverty and underdevelopment but qualified that by saying that the recent oil discovery in Guyana will catapult the country into a “behemoth.”

Chin opened a MovieTowne complex in Guyana in 2019 and up to this time, it is the biggest entertainment centre of its type there.

He said he invested US$50 million in the project. It came at a time when there was political conflict and one year later, the pandemic arrived.

He added that not long after MovieTowne was opened in Guyana, the country struck gold with large oil discoveries. He remains excited about MovieTowne’s future and the future of Guyana in general.

Chin described Guyanese as intelligent and hard-working people and encourages investors to put their money there.

At the same time, he said Guyana was a newly developing country so a lot of work has to be done to develop basic infrastructures like power plants, water, roads and other basics. Chin is hopeful over the next few years there will be a major transformation.

Lessons to learn from T&T

IR consultant Gonzales pointed out that Guyana’s economy is growing by “leaps and bounds” and it is be expected that the country will have a secure future once they use the resources properly.

“There is a lot of opportunity for business, there is high demand for skilled labour and a lot of opportunities that were not there before. It is a land of opportunity now compared to what it was before. Before it was barely surviving.”

He attributed this new-found interest in Guyana to the recent oil discoveries there which he described as one of the most important in the world.

“There is a lot of construction taking place. They are putting in a deepwater harbour as well. They are putting a bridge across the Demerara River. There’s a lot of infrastructure work to be done.”

Despite the basic steps it has made, Gonzales said Guyana still has a long way to go before it can claim to be the “Dubai of the Caribbean.”

“It may take Guyana three decades before they can reach there. They will need a significant flow of investment and migrants. They have a lot of land and other resources to be exploited.”

He hopes Guyana learns from some of T&T’s past errors and the Guyanese do not rely on oil at the expense of other parts of their economy.

He called this the “Dutch Disease” where countries rely on oil at the expense of their agriculture sector and other sectors which die leaving them dangerously over-reliant on one product to sustain their economy.

“I am sure they have their advisers and they will not make the same mistakes as Argentina or T&T or similar countries.”

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