Less complaining, more capitalising on opportunities – Vice President urges diaspora

Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said foreigners are, in large part, making use of the opportunities available in Guyana by capitalising on the same system Guyanese people often complain about.

The Vice President believes that Guyanese must not allow a culture of complaining to make them lose sight of the billions of United States (US) dollars in opportunities available to them.

(L-R) His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali and Vice President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo

This was captured in comments Dr. Jagdeo made on Friday, while accompanying His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali at a press conference in New York.  

The Vice President was responding to a question about whether the government would set up a GO-Invest office in Queens, New York, where there is a large diaspora presence.  

In-person attendants at the New York press conference

Dr. Jagdeo said a physical presence is not required to facilitate inquiries. In the era of the pandemic, he noted that it has become imperative for the government to make e-services prevalent and accessible.

“We’re not thinking about physical offices, but more services to people.”

Addressing another question, the Vice President said business persons do not need to meet with the head of GO-Invest to discuss proposals.

He explained, “if you have an office, you don’t have to meet the head of the office every time because he’s busy too. You deposit your proposal, say I’m interested. You have staff there. You meet with the staff. People walk in. The foreigners can come and do this every day and they are moving ahead with their projects, and they go through that mechanism.”

What the Government is trying to do, Dr. Jagdeo further explained, is make the system work so persons do not need to speak to a “higher-up.”

In-person attendants at the New York press conference

“You can get help from the system. That is the only way it becomes sustainable in the long run… People have to cooperate too, particularly in the diaspora. I hear sometimes more complaints than an attempt to use the system that is already there and others are using it to their advantage who come from the rest of the world.”

The question was then posed, whether the government has plans to lower taxes or provide other relief measures to citizens, giving an example of the high costs of some goods.

In response, President Ali gave an explanation of the recent occurrences, outside of government’s control, that were responsible for difficulties, such as the high cost of goods caused by the floods and the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you have a flood that wiped out 80% of your food production and at the same time, you have an increase in shipping costs of 900% for imports, … the government doesn’t control the flood, the government doesn’t control the international shipping costs (and) if supply becomes less and demand does not change, automatically you will have an imbalance in terms of price.”

In July, the President had announced that over $7.8 billion would be made available to assist persons severely affected by the floods, providing a catalyst for the agriculture sector to rebound.

In-person attendants at the New York press conference

In August, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) also had announced that the President issued a directive on relief for freight charges for the import of goods, amounting to some $4.8 billion in savings for consumers and businesses.

These are just some of the relief measures that the Government has implemented to help Guyanese to weather difficult times.

Dr. Ali said too, that these high prices will not last forever, but will fall as the prevailing circumstances evolve.

He also reminded of the incentives the government has instituted to support agriculture and food security. 

In support, the Vice President explained that the President has laid out some of the opportunities the Government is providing to open up the country.

[The President has] laid out that we want to move Guyana from a per capita GDP of $6,000 to $30,000 in this decade. To do so, people have to make use of the opportunities.”

In-person attendants at the New York press conference

Dr. Jagdeo said some persons tend to lose sight of the billions of dollars in opportunities that others are seeing and coming to Guyana for. He pointed, for example, to the oil and gas industry, which he said will generate as much as US$40 billion in investments to service that industry.

“The President has now directed that we pass legislation on local content in the oil and gas industry. We’re having special carveouts for Guyanese, transportation, logistics, rentals, all of these, the oil companies can only source these companies from Guyanese. That represents billions of US dollars of opportunities for our people.”

Dr. Jagdeo urged media workers in the diaspora to help the government convey this messaging and called on the Guyanese living in those communities to take advantage of those opportunities.